Saturday, July 09, 2005

Data Theft: How to Fix the Mess

The New York Times has done a great job of providing quality coverage and commentary on the recent personal information breaches. Today's NYT has a commentary by Joseph Nocera that draws parallels between what has recently been happening and regulations that were put in place in the 1970's to deal with unsolicited cards and fraudulent transactions. When originally introduced the banks were furious about being prohibited from sending unsolicited cards and about the $50 liability cap for consumers. In retrospect, the author says, the banks should be thankful because it saved the credit industry by giving people much more confidence in the credit system. By not fearing fraudulent transactions, consumers embraced credit cards and this has been a huge windfall for the banking industry.

We have been reading a number of articles in recent weeks about how consumers are growing more fearful of doing business online and are concerned about who has their personal information and how it is protected (see, for example: Online trust is falling, The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Equifax CEO: Identity Theft Is an Epidemic). If the parallels are there, increased regulation and accountability may be negative in the short term but can actually help the industry in the long term. Read the article here: Data Theft: How to Fix the Mess - New York Times.

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