Getting Over It

Last week I got a letter from a health clinic that I used maybe five years ago. The letter said some of their PCs were stolen out of their office, and on those PCs were the electronic records of their patients, including mine. They also sent a photocopy of the police report, for reasons I don’t understand.

On Monday, DSW (the discount shoe store) said that transaction information on about 1.4 million credit cards was stolen. Because the transaction logs just had name, credit card number, and amount, they didn’t have any easy way to contact the people whose credit card numbers were obtained (although they did contact the credit card vendors). But given the list of stores and the dates of the logs, I know my credit card number was among the ones obtained.

How long must we be diligent, checking our credit cards for fraud, checking our credit history? Years.

Just this past week, I discovered ZabaSearch, a free site for looking up information about people. Where they used to live, when they were born, their phone numbers — all right there. And background checks for $5. How convenient.

I wonder where this will end. Will there be a backlash against acquiring information, new regulations on handling it, more use of one-time identifiers (like virtual credit cards), more use of things like P.O. boxes, etc? Or will people just warm to the idea that we no longer have any privacy? Or, in the words of Sun CEO Scott McNealy, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it”?

Getting Over It