The Register ran a story yesterday (that I would have otherwise missed - Thanks, PrivacySpot) about the litany of privacy stories that have appeared in the spotlight this March. The title is "ID theft is inescapable", but the story also has other lessons...
ID-theft and privacy are real issues for consumers. The media now much more likely to run with the stories. Though I have no hard facts to back this up, I do not think this March madness is a symptom of increased hacking and criminality. Rather, it is a reflection of how ordinary consumers are concerned, how the media report on the issue and how legislators are stepping in to address this concern. Much of this activity would have been unreported had it not been for the California law that requires notification for security lapses. But that law was a response to consumer fears.
The lesson is that how organizations manage and protect consumer information is under the spotlight and bright light is pretty unforgiving. I have seen, first hand, that a growing group of consumers are making decisions based on how companies respect their privacy. You can call them "privacy concerned." A large portion can be called neutral, and they'll walk if a company doesn't respect their privacy. This is now a simple reality for companies that deal with personal information.
ID theft is inescapable The Register:
"March 2005 might make history as the apex of identity theft disclosures. Privacy invasion outfit ChoicePoint, payroll handler PayMaxx, Bank of America, Lexis Nexis, several universities, and a large shoe retailer called DSW all lost control of sensitive data concerning millions of people.
Credit card and other banking details, names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth have fallen into the hands of potential identity thieves. The news could not be worse...."