Saturday, February 18, 2006

ChoicePoint Inc. Ten Million Dollar Fine a Joke?

Seasons Under The Sun is pleased to present a post that was provided in response to the recent Guest Author Invitation.

David Anderson who publishes the fine web site "Italian's Insight to Travel Italy" submitted this compelling article about the recent ten million U.S. dollar fine of ChoicePoint Inc. The fine was levied by the FTC for a data security breach that compromised the financial records of more than 163,000 consumers, over 800 of whom became the victims of identity theft. While some have praised the efforts of the FTC to extract "significant" penalties in this case, David doesn't believe that the fine, and other imposed penalties on ChoicePoint go nearly far enough. Those who are concerned about the privacy of their personal information and individual civil rights should take heed... Full Story

Choice Point fined 10 million USD
by David Anderson

Recently, ChoicePoint Inc., a publicly traded Credit Rating company, was fined 10 million USD. Touted by the FTC as something important I propose this fine is a joke, simply a move engineered to avoid taking on the very serious problem of rampant corporate greed sacrificing the right to privacy of individuals and politician’s compliance with corporate America for personal gain.

Some time ago I would have suggested that a credit report has nothing to do with the qualifications of an individual for a job. I have come to understand that, while the practice is abused, most jobs have nothing to do with credit worthiness, there are some instances where credit history can signal future problems. Additionally, as our society becomes more and more superficial credit reports are an important part of our lending industry and therefore, necessary to the current economic structure.

The indiscriminate amassment of information regarding individuals is inappropriate. No corporation should be allowed to maintain or gather information that is not strictly pertinent to a financial operation requested by an individual. Our politicians allow corporations to gather information and data mine in order to market goods and services.

Corporations sell this information to others who perform the same operation. Then, when this information is used inappropriately and the individual concerned has no idea that this information even exists, it is the individual’s responsibility to fix the problem. Again, the individual did nothing to create this problem and most likely did not even know that the information had been gathered by some corporation.

To further exasperate the problem, corporations do not employ sufficient security measures to guarantee the confidentiality of the information. The corporations claim that it would be too costly to continually stay ahead of the technology used to crack their systems. This argument is absurd, it is a cost of doing business and should the business model not support proper security they should not be involved with this product.

In most European countries, where we consider them to be socialist and less of a free society, strict privacy laws exist. If information is stolen because of negligence or the company sells the information it is a criminal offense. They go to jail. Needless to say they are very conscious regarding the type of information they acquire and hold on their systems.

We consider ourselves the bearers of freedom. We say that we protect individual rights. We want the world to have our freedom. A 10 million dollar fine for negligence where the company made 100s of millions of dollars with this information and where the cost to the individuals damaged will be significantly higher, is this a joke?

Politicians, make yourselves useful, stop yelling at each other and do your job. Protect our individual freedoms! The free market is a marvelous thing but I grew up with the notion that “my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.
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