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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Apathetics" Taking Over the World

Webster Should Add “Apathetic” to Dictionary

I have coined a new word to describe the typical consumer when it comes to taking responsibility for their rights. In this case, the right to privacy, and to be free from identity theft. The word is “Apathetic,” and it refers to the majority of individuals today who seem to care less about the alarming amount of fraud being carried out using their names and personal data. Further, most seem even less concerned over the incompetence of the companies handling this private information. As a former broker of mailing lists for 35 years and database expert, I do and I am.

The Abysmal Track Record

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has recently reported that the number of breaches of personal data records has passed 100 million. And that’s just since the awakening incident by ChoicePoint in February of 2005. And from my experience in the junk mail industry, I can assure you that there were millions prior to 2005 that went unreported due to the lack of a notification law like California’s Senate Bill 27, which went into effect January 1, 2005. Based on a Javelin Research/Better Business Bureau survey on identity theft which started reporting figures in 2003, it is easy to project that there will be somewhere around 8.5 million victims in 2007.

United Kingdom ID Thieves Encrypt Fraud/American Companies Say Too Costly

In an article on ZDNet, “Jailed ID thieves thwart cops with crypto,” crooks in the UK were not only able to initiate the deleting of their databases—while handcuffed, no less—but also to trigger encryption that police technology experts were unable to decrypt. US business has maintained for years that encryption is too expensive to implement. But, does the UK incident give you an idea of the level of sophistication the bad guys have been able to achieve? It is a business, folks, and the product they are selling is your sensitive data. Look in the mirror. It’s just a matter of time.

Identity Crisis Battle Lost in Three Major Areas

I posted a comment to the above UK article to demonstrate three critical points of the identity crisis. The first was that the business community is concerned only with profits; therefore, the protection of our personal data is secondary. Second, congressional leaders are only interested in getting re-elected, thus, their vote also goes with the money. Third, and the substance of this article, is the apathy of the American public over the possible loss of their identity, eventually their right to privacy.

Some Consumer Opinion Polls Report the “Apathetics” Do Care

I’ve read surveys that report that consumers are concerned about their privacy, and are also troubled over the potential of identity fraud. Yet many make the same mistakes over and over in protecting their private information. Not shredding credit card offers before discarding is at the top of this list, along with freely giving out sensitive data like Social Security number, birth date, driver license, etc. They also don’t demand control over their names and personal data; at the same that they be paid whenever it is sold. It’s time to lose the apathy.

Let me know what you think.

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