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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tuesday Morning Musings

Stay Healthy or the World Will Know

I made an appointment with Mayo Clinic recently and they sent me a personal health form to complete before my appointment. Four pages, almost two-hundred questions that cover nearly any malady a person could ever have. It is thorough, and the doctor should know as much as possible about the condition of your health in order to help you. However, where does all this healthcare information end up? Just about everywhere, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. In their “How Private Is My Medical Information?” site, possible locations include insurance companies, government agencies, employers, and the Medical Information Bureau (MIB), a central medical database used by insurance companies. It could also be collected by junk mailers if you participate in health screenings or complete medical questionnaires. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) helps but does not cover your financial records, education records and employment files. I decided to cancel my Mayo appointment.

Daily Kos Agrees Dems Should Put Privacy in the Platform

In a recent Firedoglake blog, there was a quote from Daily Kos; both are political Weblogs. Kos was commenting on how Hillary Clinton called for a Privacy Bill of Rights to protect Americans’ personal information, and how this should be a primary plank of the Democratic Party. This is a good move, but doesn’t quite go the full route needed to halt the identity crisis. We must give control of consumers’ names and sensitive data to the individual, and they should be paid each time it is sold. If the Dems won’t do it, maybe an Independent Party could get the job done.

LifeLock recruits Limbaugh

LifeLock is a company that advertises that it can stop junk mail, credit offers and identity theft. So convinced is the founder, Todd Davis, that he gives you his actual Social Security number on their Website, a dare to try and steal his identity. The company offers guaranteed ID theft prevention for $110 a year, and Rambling Rush will endorse the whole thing. That’s $110 that no consumer should have to pay. My deal is you should have control over you name and private information at no cost, and it is the individual who should be paid, not a company taking advantage of the identity crisis. I still think Al Franken was right.

Wireless Pickpocket the Latest Scam

You may have received one in the mail recently. They are called contactless credit cards which can wirelessly communicate information about you and your account. But scanner thieves can steal this just like the original pickpocket that preceded today’s advanced technology. According to Liz Pulliam Weston on MSN Money, these cards do not have an “off” switch, therefore, it’s like open season for the experienced hacker. Card issuers say everything is safe through encryption, but privacy advocates are skeptical. Actual data captures have been documented by the New York Times and the Today Show, one of which read data from a briefcase out of a person’s back pocket.. What we’re talking about is an RFID chip that is being considered by several industries to track a multitude of things, including human beings. Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) thinks there are flaws, and isn’t entirely sure companies wouldn’t pull info from these cards to add to their databases. Along with other data available on the Internet and otherwise, individuals could be targeted for a number of illegal endeavors such as robberies, even carjacking.


This Mailing List Could be Hazardous to Your Privacy

“Cell Phone Numbers” is a new list from the Media Source Solutions company with 14.3 million individual cell phone numbers. They also have your age, which is a great start in acquiring more sensitive data for ID thieves, should they get their hands on the list. Could cell phone junk phone calls be right around the corner?

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