A New Hampshire woman was once murdered after her stalker bought her address and social security number from an online information service.
Following the 11 September terrorist attacks, the Bush administration started an elaborate data mining operation to spy on its citizens. The project "Knowlegde is Power" was cut short by Congress before it could do much harm. But book author O'Harrow claims that the programme actually broadened after it was officially killed.
These and other examples come from a review of O'Harrow's book in the New York Times. It's a frightning tale of a world where we won't controll our own faith.
After 9/11, work was started on system dubbed "Matrix" that was to enable surveillance for both public and private security. An official with the Justice Department called it "the computer that every American is afraid of."
A company called ChoicePoint specialises in collecting data ranging from demographic data, criminal records and marketing data. It's customers: mainly government entities that use the system as a backup and cross check for their own databases. But the company also has a commercial arm to screen employees, blacklist shoplifters and do credit reporting.
The company's database also was hacked an thieves ran off with confidential data that can ruin the lives of 145,000 American residents. And the company has reported that phoney companies were downloading information on individuals. To add insult to injury, the company's chief executive Derek Smith is under investigation by the SEC for securities fraud.
Recently Lexis Nexis, a online database owned by Reed Elsevier, was hacked and over 32,000 personal records allegedly were stolen.
When Sun CEO Scott McNealy spoke his famous words: "You have zero privacy, get over it," did he realise that the lack of privacy inevitably would lead to a world where identity theft would be an everyday reality?
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