TUCoPS :: Privacy :: priv_208.txt

Privacy Digest 2.08 3/12/93

PRIVACY Forum Digest     Friday, 12 March 1993     Volume 02 :
Issue 08

         Moderated by Lauren Weinstein (lauren@cv.vortex.com)
                Vortex Technology, Topanga, CA, U.S.A.
                     ===== PRIVACY FORUM =====

       The PRIVACY Forum digest is supported in part by the 
           ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy.

     Re: Should the information industry be consentual? (Tommy
     Re: Should the information industry be consentual?
     B.C. Will Choose New Privacy Commissioner (Leslie Regan Shade)
     Quebec examines personal data law (Leslie Regan Shade)
     Reverse directories (Joseph Pearl)

 *** Please include a RELEVANT "Subject:" line on all submissions!
            *** Submissions without them may be ignored! ***

The PRIVACY Forum is a moderated digest for the discussion and
analysis of
issues relating to the general topic of privacy (both personal and
collective) in the "information age" of the 1990's and beyond.  The
moderator will choose submissions for inclusion based on their
relevance and
content.  Submissions will not be routinely acknowledged.

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   Quote for the day:

     "I would like to be on some cutting-edge Bell Labs thing.
      But I'm just not smart enough, so I'd probably be backing
      up stuff and getting coffee."

                 -- Illusionist Penn Jillett (of Penn & Teller),
                 asked what he'd like to be doing if he were
                 in high-tech.


Date:    Tue, 9 Mar 93 14:05:50 EST
From:    adiron!tro@uunet.UU.NET (Tommy O'Lin)
Subject: Re: Should the information industry be consentual?

   From:    John Pettitt <jpettitt@well.sf.ca.us>

   Continuing the public discussion with Larry

   .... I submit that he has yet to prove a case where free flow of
   information has caused a problem.

   [paragraphs omitted]

   Data collection and trading is going to happen no matter what -
even if it
   moves off shore (a silly concept in the digital age).  The
sooner we face
   the reality and establish norms, conventions and taboos
regarding data
   the better.  A start would be to:

   1) don't restrict the free flow of _accurate_ data

Well, then, how about if John posts to the rest of us:

- a full (and accurate, of course) financial disclosure, including
a list of
all bank accounts (with balances), all credit accounts (with
balances), all
investment holdings, all real property holdings, etc.  Be sure to
accurate income information.

- a list of all publications to which he subscribes or has
subscribed in the
past 5 years.

- a list of all organizations to which he has donated money or
other property
over the past 5 years.

- a list of all books and audio/video recordings he has bought,
rented, or
borrowed over the past 5 years.

- anybody want to know anything else?  Send in your queries today!

As long as he's at it, he might as well post the information on the
front of
his home and business - and it would be convenient for some people
if he posted
it on the bulletin board at the grocery store, too.  Of course, no
harm would
come from any of this, as long as the information is _accurate_.

   2) establish clear, enforced methods of trcking data
   3) make provision for reaonable penalties for selling inaccurate

   The problem with all this it is completly impossible to enforce.

If not impossible, perhaps difficult.  Laws against homicide cannot
murders, but society still tries.

   If you can find a real case of harm by accurate information used
   and a way of enforcing privacy I would be happy to look at it.

You might be right.  Let's give it a try.  Post your accurate
information and
see if anything happens.

   Tom Olin    tro@partech.com    uunet!adiron!tro    (315)
738-0600 Ext 638
 PAR Technology Corporation * 220 Seneca Turnpike * New Hartford NY


Date:    Wed, 10 Mar 93 11:22:18 +0100
From:    kaiser@heron.enet.dec.com (European Technology &
Subject: Re: Should the information industry be consentual?

John Pettitt writes:

     I submit that [Larry Seiler] has yet to prove a case where
     flow of _accurate_ information has caused a problem.

Problems for whom?

Experience shows that in the business of accumulating and
databases about personal information there is a high rate of
corruption, of
both data [1] and individuals [2].  Moreover, there are plenty of
cases where the free flow of accurate information is unwise,
inhumane, or
illegal [3].

     [1] As a consultant I've worked with businesses on their
     and marketing databases, and my professional experience is
that the
     best of these has a high error rate.  I've also worked with
     governmental agencies on similar databases, and once had the
     pleasure of seeing two years' work -- on a project funded by
a UN
     agency, not done by me -- having to be abandoned when I
     demonstrated the internal inconsistency of personal data in
     database.  Read "Consumer Reports" (Consumers Union) about the
     problems with credit-reporting companies.  Good rule of thumb:
     data are dirty until proven otherwise.  Many of us can provide
     anecdotal evidence from my own credit life.  I can.

     [2] Anecdotal evidence from many recent cases, for instance
     involving the sale of police data by trusted insiders, or the
     of banking and credit information by trusted insiders. 
Several of
     these in the news recently.

     [3] Medical information?  Sexual information?  Arrest records? 
     information may be accurate, but should it flow freely?  What
     a complete and accurate transcription of all your
conversations and
     activities with the last three boyfriends/girlfriends you

These aren't only civil liberties problems; there are business
costs for
using inaccurate data, or using even accurate data inappropriately;
businesses -- at least in America -- can, so far, force society and
individuals to shoulder much of those costs.  We shouldn't have to.



Date:    Wed, 10 Mar 1993 19:46:43 -0500 (EST)
From:    Leslie Regan Shade <shade@Ice.CC.McGill.CA>
Subject: B.C. Will Choose New Privacy Commissioner

The March 9, 1993 issue of The Globe and Mail (Canada's national
newspaper) had an article on p. A9 entitled "How B.C. is forming
society" by Robert Matas.

Paraphrasing from the article:

Matas mentions that the province of British Columbia has just
closed their
job competition for the province's first information and privacy
commissioner.  The recommendation for hiring should happen next
month when 
the all-party legislation decides who is the lucky person--out of

B.C.'s first freedom of information law  passed last year. 
This law assumes that "Canadians no longer trust politicians and
bureaucrats to handle public policy" B.C., although the 8th
province to introduce such legislation, promises to be more
advanced than
other laws. 

Beginning in the fall, information and privacy provisions are to be
in over 18 months, with public access to the files of about 200
boards, agencies, commissions, and corporations.  

The "leading edge" provision will require senior government
officials to
disclose information (with or without a request) that reveals a
health, safety, or environmental hazard. 

As well, the provisions will be extended to cover school boards,
municipalities, hospital boards, police boards, postsecondary
institutions, and local government agencies.  By 1995,
professional bodies (doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, etc)
will be
required to comply by 1995.  


Date:    Wed, 10 Mar 1993 19:58:56 -0500 (EST)
From:    Leslie Regan Shade <shade@Ice.CC.McGill.CA>
Subject: Quebec examines personal data law

>From the Globe and Mail (Canada's national newspaper), February
24, 1993,
"Quebec examines proposal on guarding personal data", by Rheal

Paraphrase:  the article mentions that a bill for the Province of
which aims to protect personal information (credit card records,
files) is being scrutinized by a Quebec National Assembly

The bill would require that personal information obtained by credit
bureaus or other private companies not be available to third
without the individual's consent.  

Several instances have alarmed privacy advocates, and these have
raised by the Parti-Quebecois communications critic, Michel
Bourdon.  For
instance, it is alleged that employees of Equifax Canada have
themselves off as Revenue Ministry employees in order to obtain the
addresses of individuals who have defaulted on their Hydro-Quebec
(electricity) payments.  Equifax Canada is the largest credit
bureau in
Quebec. Their biggest client is the Quebec Ministry of Manpower,
Security and Skills Dept., which frequently requests credit checks
welfare recipients. 

As well, a Montreal woman, after receiving treatment in a hospital
heart problems, received information about a pre-arranged funeral
Critics of the legislation, such as Rebe Laperriere of the
University of
Quebec's Groupe de recherche informatique et droit, believe that
the law
should state clearly under what circumstances a company could have
to personal information, as well as imposing tighter restrictions
on how
it is used.


Date:    Thu, 11 Mar 93 09:28:03 EST
From:    joep@jaguar.informix.com (Joseph Pearl)
Subject: reverse directories 

Just a little more into the fray...

I was at Sears with my wife, returning something, when the cashier
asked what our phone number was.  Without thinking, my wife told
cashier (one of those rough days where the brain shuts down after
6pm).  The cashier then recited our name and address and asked if
was correct.  

Well, this had me thinking the rest of the night -- what are they
doing with such information readily available at the cashier level?
Also, of what importance is that information when returning a $3
I think that, next time, we're going to either use a fictitious
number or simply refuse.  I wonder what will happen...

It's not that I'm keeping that information private - I'm listed in
phone book.  I just can't understand why it's necessary.

-> From: padgett@tccslr.dnet.mmc.com (A. Padgett Peterson)
-> A final suggestion is the use of "canary traps" - creative
-> of your name for different uses - to pinpoint what list
-> was garnered from.

I, too, use creative mispellings of my name.  It's *really*
interesting to see from where the lists come from.  


Joe Pearl                Tel:  212-753-3920
Informix Software, Inc.            Fax:  212-753-4210
757 Third Avenue              Email:    joep@informix.com
New York, NY  10017

     [ I have removed somewhat extensive quoted text (from previous
       digest messages) that was originally included in the 
       above message.

       A comment: I would suggest that it is never a good idea
       to use a fictitious phone number in response to a clerk's
       query.  Doing so simply risks dragging some other person,
       who might have that number, into the situation.  If the
       insists on a number, and you don't want to give it, ask
       for the manager, or consider doing business elsewhere. 

       Keep in mind that in most cases you're simply dealing with 
       a clerk who has a specific set of information he has
       been instructed to get and may not realize that not everyone
       is willing to provide a number.  However, in almost all
       when faced with a choice of not getting the number or losing
       the sale, the clerk will opt for the former. -- MODERATOR ]


End of PRIVACY Forum Digest 02.08

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