Thursday, April 19, 2007

Not answering a Privacy Notice gives the sender permission to sell your personal/financial information

Recently, I did a post on the difficulties a blogger had after receiving a privacy notice from one of his financial institutions (American Express) and trying to "opt-out" (let them know he didn't want his personal and financial information sold).

In reality, most of the privacy notices, we receive are saying "if you don't respond to me, you are giving us permission to sell your personal and financial information."

These privacy notices (hard to distinguish from junk mail) come about from a law passed in 2001 to protect consumers from having their information sold (just about anywhere). This personal information is often put at risk because it wasn't protected, properly.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has a lot of information on this subject and why the version of the law that was passed isn't as consumer friendly as it sounds. Here is what they had to say:

When this law was debated in Congress, consumer advocates argued unsuccessfully for an "opt-in" provision. This stronger standard would have prevented the sharing or sale of your customer data unless you affirmatively consented. Unfortunately, the opt-in standard did not prevail. That is why we emphasize in Fact Sheet 24 that the burden is on you to protect your financial privacy.

They do have an EXTREMELY informative page on the site, which gives a lot of information on the law and how you can protect your information, here.

They also have another page with a lot of information on how to opt-out from having a lot of different companies sell your personal details.

If you are like me and have a "time challenged" life style, there is one place everyone should opt-out from having their information sold, or the credit bureaus. Credit bureaus, collect and gather all our personal and financial information, and make a LOT of money, selling it.

In a lot of instances, they were the ones, who sold it in the first place.

You can do this, by going, here.

The Federal Trade Commission also offers information to consumers on this subject.

Since most of these laws were passed by Congress prior to data breaches being tracked, perhaps the time is right to make a few changes to the law.

In case any of them are interested, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, has also been maintaining a very telling chronology of why something should be done, here.

As of this post, 153,558,451 voters and potential voters have been compromised, according to the chronology (which freely admits it isn't 100 percent accurate). The stated reason that it is impossible to be accurate is because in many instances, the total number of people compromised couldn't be determined.

It's normally pretty hard to get the data thieves to comment on how much information they got in any particular breach!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do Not Mail Opt-Out Law would be fair to everyone.

The proposed recent "Do not mail" is an Opt-Out law. Only those not desiring advertising mail need opt-out. Anyone desiring advertising mail can do nothing - and continue to receive it. Why deny those wishing to avoid advertising mail the power to do so?

I do not consider handling unwanted advertising placed against my will on my personal property to be a civic obligation!

The US Supreme Court said in the Rowan case in 1970, ““In today's [1970] complex society we are inescapably captive audiences for many purposes, but a sufficient measure of individual autonomy must survive to permit every householder to exercise control over unwanted mail. To make the householder the exclusive and final judge of what will cross his threshold undoubtedly has the effect of impeding the flow of ideas, information, and arguments that, ideally, he should receive and consider. Today's merchandising methods, the plethora of mass mailings subsidized by low postal rates, and the growth of the sale of large mailing lists as an industry in itself have changed the mailman from a carrier of primarily private communications, as he was in a more leisurely day, and have made him an adjunct of the mass mailer who sends unsolicited and often unwanted mail into every home. It places no strain on the doctrine of judicial notice to observe that whether measured by pieces or pounds, Everyman's mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And all too often it is matter he finds offensive.”

Furthermore, the Supreme Court said, “the mailer's right to communicate is circumscribed only by an affirmative act of the addressee giving notice that he wishes no further mailings from that mailer.

To hold less would tend to license a form of trespass and would make hardly more sense than to say that a radio or television viewer may not twist the dial to cut off an offensive or boring communication and thus bar its entering his home. Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit; we see no basis for according the printed word or pictures a different or more preferred status because they are sent by mail.”

We need a nationwide “Do Not Mail” law to create a one-stop, convenient place for homeowners to give senders the aforementioned affirmative notice that we do not want certain kinds of mail sent to our homes.

Ramsey A Fahel