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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

So who's concerned about privacy?

Today Tonight “fooled” 20 of 30 people stopped in the street into providing their full name, date of birth, contact number, home address, mothers maiden name, marital status, nationality, occupation, citizenship status and which bank they used.

The journalist involved gave a private detective his business card and after one week the investigator returned with a complete record of education, employment history, home address, details of wife and children, where he banked and the doctor he used.

Public education everywhere is lagging a long way behind the real threats to privacy.

This Australian example follows a Guardian article in the UK that pieced together the personal profile of a person based on a discarded airline boarding ticket that included only the person’s name and frequent flyer number.

In Canada the Alberta Privacy Commissioner is investigating businesses for breach of privacy for including full credit card numbers on receipts, which when discarded would give an identity fraudster a pretty good start. This appears to be a common practice in Australia. You might want to keep an eye on your receipts and have a word to the merchant when you see this has happened.

And The (Adelaide) Advertiser reports today – “Women fear website puts them in danger” – that a website, wait for it, enables anyone to ascertain personal details about you just be knowing the street you live in. Telstra’s online directory division Sensus says it is “appalled” by the website and the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Federal Privacy Commissioner are both said to be investigating.

Not good news for those who say we have nothing to be concerned about when it comes to privacy and things like the proposed database that will support the Government’s access card. Apart from women in Adelaide, who cares?

Well maybe this pessism is a bit premature - the Government has appointed Professsor Allan Fels as Chairman of a Consumer and Privacy Advisory Committee to keep an eye on the development of the access card

Thanks to Pogowasright for the lead on the Today Tonight story and to David Fraser's Canadian Privacy blog for the lead on the on the others.

1 comment:

  1. Privacy Officer NSW Public Sector9:17 am


    This is horrifying!

    Congratulations and thank you for your blog. I read it regularly and have found it very helpful. This is the sort of service that the NSW Privacy Commission would ideally be providing.