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Comcast Tries to Use Patriot Act to Take Customer’s SSN

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When this guy tried to sign up for Comcast cable without providing his Social Security Number, they harassed him saying that they were required to ask for it under the Patriot Act.

Deal with this by first finding out what they're going to do with it and how they're going to protect it. I would most likely use the '0' trick or just make sure your credit reports are frozen and they wouldn't be able to run credit on you even if they tried.

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Internet Service Providers Storing Information About Your Web Searches

They dropped their "don't be evil" motto for a reason
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Google has been inappropriately storing your search records for a long time now, but it looks like they're far from being the only one.

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Your Health Records For Sale

Down the hole. Who needs those records anyway?
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Health and life insurance companies have access to a powerful new tool for evaluating whether to cover individual consumers: a health "credit report" drawn from databases containing prescription drug records on more than 200 million Americans.

It's important to know that these prescription reports and others like it are not regulated at all while credit reporting companies are heavily regulated, and still are a problem sometimes.

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Your Internet Service Provider Tracks and Sells You

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Some marketing research firms are working with ISPs to track all data transmitted over your Internet connection to build profiles of you by which to advertise more junk. On the question of how they'll protect your privacy, the companies said:

First, every user in the NebuAd system is identified by a number that the company assigns rather than an Internet address, which in theory could be traced to a person. The number NebuAd assigns cannot be tracked to a specific address. That way, if the company's data is stolen or leaked, no one could identify customers or the Web sites they've visited, Dykes said.

Oh right. Because that worked so well before.

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Apple DRM-Free, but Spies on You?

Apple Corp.
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Apple music files can now be purchased without DRM, but it seems that they hide information in the file with your name and account information.

Now the question becomes, what do they do with the information? Ars Technica theorizes that this might be a new form of identifying file sharers since the file itself will blab who the original owner was.

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Using data brokering to Take the Elderly

Data brokering is dangerous and uncontrolled
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You know all those times I've complained about data brokering and how companies are able to hit us where we are weakest because of all they learn and profile about us? I'm not just making this stuff up.

Mr. Guthrie, who lives in Iowa, had entered a few sweepstakes that caused his name to appear in a database advertised by infoUSA, one of the largest compilers of consumer information. InfoUSA sold his name, and data on scores of other elderly Americans, to known lawbreakers, regulators say. InfoUSA advertised lists of "Elderly Opportunity Seekers," 3.3 million older people "looking for ways to make money," and "Suffering Seniors," 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. "Oldies but Goodies" contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: "These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change."
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A Good Article About Data Brokering

Suck it all down
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Data Brokering (what I refer to as data brokering) is the practice of buying and assembling personal information and then reselling it. As opposed to credit reporting companies, these people collect everything they can about you. Companies like Facebook and Choicepoint for example.

James Derrell White, 41, who happens to live in Alpharetta, Ga., where ChoicePoint is based, was denied a job with Home Depot this year because data provided by ChoicePoint incorrectly identified him as a felon. "We thought we were in a bad dream," says Julie White, James' wife.

Data brokers have very little regulation which is what leads to problems like these.

"No matter how good any company's attitudes toward privacy, there are too many players in the (data-collecting) industry — too many intricate parts when it comes to privacy issues — to expect self-regulation to effectively deal with the problems," Solove says.

Hear, hear! We need laws and we need laws now.

This story provides some good background information on the issue. Tags:

DNA Stalkers?

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Apparently, some genealogy freaks have begun cataloging their relatives' DNA without their knowledge.

Unlike paper records, which can be hard to come by and harder to verify, a genetic test can quickly and definitively tell if someone is a relative. ... Some funeral homes now offer post-mortem DNA collection. But Linda Jonas saw no need for professional help when she tugged several hairs from her grandmother’s head as she lay in her casket. She made sure to get the root. "Obviously, it’s not going to hurt her, " said Ms. Jonas, a family historian in McLean, Va. "I had a little Ziploc. "
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