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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Greg Palast, an irreverent journalist, did an article, “The Spies Who Shag Us,” back in 2006 that starts by taking the position that all citizens must be “shocked” over the fact that George W. Bush is spying on all of us. His ax to grind is the “link-up” between the government and private business like ChoicePoint that circumvent the 1974 Privacy Act, and collect every morsel of information available on each U.S. citizen. And by the way, I am not even sure the American public is that shocked. Maybe a few of us, but not sufficient to force business and government to quit manipulating our sensitive data in precarious, even dangerous ways. Palast makes a stronger point in his concern over the linking of one type of personal data to another; like medical records to credit card purchases or lifestyle activity. He compares Homeland Security to Austin Powers, and resurrects the ChoicePoint error rate of 97% in finding Florida felons in the 2000 election. The Federal Trade Commission gets from 15,000 to 20,000 contacts weekly from consumers on how to recover from ID theft or keep from becoming a victim. They put out millions of publications on the subject each year, but most of us still don’t get it. To curb the identity crisis, we must be given control over our names and private information, and we should be compensated when it is sold. The shock is that the American consumer hasn’t realized this and demanded his or her rights.

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