Hail & Hiss
A Sony breach exposes the personal data of 100 million gamers. A cop is busted for identity theft. Net neutrality suffers a setback. A roundup of who’s getting it right and wrong in the fight against identity theft and data breaches.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Obama Wants Your Birth Certificate to Stay Private Too
The Obama administration certainly understands the stakes of keeping personal information . . . well, personal. To that end, government officials have released the final version of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), designed to establish an “identity ecosystem” in which online transactions are safer and privacy is protected. The strategy calls for the creation of “trusted” credentials offered to consumers by a variety of private sector identity providers. It’s still a ways off, but we’re encouraged by the news.
Call of Duty Outweighs Call of Honesty
It’s almost too nuts to be true: Hard-working Alaska cop Rafael Espinoza was respected and trusted by his colleagues. Until, of course, the day a routine passport renewal revealed that he wasn’t who he said he was. In fact, he’s an illegal Mexican immigrant who assumed the identity of another man and served as a policeman in his name. We’re putting this one in the Hail column—not because we’re applauding the officer’s actions, but because, well, it’s not often that we find an identity theft story so confounding.
Docs Fight to Cover Their Rx Tracks
In 2007, Vermont passed a law allowing doctors to prevent pharmacies from selling records of which medicines they prescribed—and how often—to data firms that tailor drug marketing to MDs. Doctors say the practice poses privacy risks for them and their patients: Doctors’ names are attached to the data, and patients’ names, though removed, could be retrieved. Also, pharmaceutical companies could gain undue influence over prescribing patterns. Health-data brokers argue that the law restricts commercial free speech, and they’ve taken their fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. We hope Vermont wins in Washington.
HissUpping the Corporate-Theft Ante
Apparently stealing personal information is becoming passé: According to a new study on the security of information economies by McAfee and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), cybercriminals now go after corporate intellectual capital—trade secrets, marketing plans, R&D, source code—at some of the biggest and seemingly most protected corporations. The report also noted that companies increase their risk by outsourcing data processing to other countries, where data-protection standards are lower. Who knew we’d look back on the days of stolen Social Security and credit card numbers with nostalgia?
You Say Net Neutrality, We Say Stop Fighting and Let Us Surf in Peace
The House of Representatives approved a measure preventing the FCC from controlling how ISPs provide Internet access. The measure essentially shoots down the concept of “net neutrality”—the belief that ISPs should treat all data as equal and not provide preferential treatment to certain content providers. Republicans say net neutrality oversteps the FCC’s authority and gives government control over what people can and can’t see. Democrats say Republicans are protecting the interests of big cable and phone companies. We say sling all the mud you want, but don’t tell us we can’t have access to our favorite wacky websites.
Gamers Around the World Cry into Their Red Bulls
Sony reported a massive hack of its online PlayStation Network, which brought the network—an intense global competition between total strangers—to a screeching halt. The system remains down nearly three weeks later. As if that wasn’t outrage enough, an “unauthorized person” used the incident to capture information about many of PlayStation’s 100 million account holders, including names, addresses, user names, passwords—and possibly credit card numbers. The breach is disturbing, especially for a corporation of Sony’s stature. Even more upsetting is the thought of all those gamers actually having to, you know, socialize. In person.
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