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“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Choicepoint settles with the FTC for $15M. 162K people should be saying “are you kidding me?!”

Posted by direwolff on January 28, 2006

In case you have been following this story, Choicepoint, who according to their Web site is the “nation’s leading provider of identification an credential verification services”, sold 162,000 people’s information from their database to an identity theft ring…oops!  Here’s the press release on the settlement between the Federal Trade Commission and Choicepoint.

For a solid review of the issues here checkout Marc Rotenberg’s (Executive Director and President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)) testimony before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives.  This testimony is not for the feint at heart.

If you’re so inclined, you can also access the FTC’s complaint and stipulated final judgment here.

What’s insane about the settlement is that at $15M results in less than $100 per illegally sold identity.  Already 800 people have suffered identity theft from this fiasco.  For any of you that have been a victim of identity theft, do you believe that $100 would relieve the actual cost to get your life back in order as well as the real costs of the fraud committed in your name?  Not to mention the anxiety this causes.  Leaving this later issue aside, the real costs of identity theft to any single individual are generally significantly more than $100, and while only 800 people have had this happen from this incident, to allow Choicepoint to have violated so many people and breaching the law to such an extent and basically get less than a slap on the hand, is frankly preposterous.

The scary part to me, is that with a little more investigation, I just may find out what Choicepoint’s campaign contributions to those involved in determing their fate was made last year, which would make me really sick (so I’m not gonna look).   While I despise what Choicepoint stands for, I despise even more that it’s not about trust since no one has ever willingly given the information they hold on all of us, but it’s purely about greed.  If nothing else over the next decade, what our populus has be educated on is the need for individuals to have control and ownership over their own information.  It may not prevent this type of thing from happening, but at least we can decide the terms under which we provide our information to data vaults.  As well, we would also get to benefit in the use of our information in ways that do not happen today….as it should be.

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