As politicians hunker down for a long, bipolar year producing little, citizen-consumers get no vacation from the need to protect their privacy online.
Global Payments, which processes transactions for Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, revealed that hackers had stolen 1.5 million credit card numbers. The company acknowledged the breach at least two weeks after it happened.
Across the pond, British citizens find their calls, texts, emails, web searches and other presumably private transactions in the sights of the government headed by Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron has said it is “vital” for his government to be able to monitor such behavior to stop serious crime and terrorism .
While many cases of the sharing of individual data occur with the consent of people who “opt in,” others demonstrate the persistent erosion of rights and privileges for individuals who don’t control their personal information.
The U.S. Congress, not surprisingly, is of two minds about all this. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle support legislation addressing cyber-security and mandating prompt notification of consumers involved in data breaches; there is much to like about the idea of such a bill, which would grant consumers the right to understand and control the use of their personal information by companies with access to it.
In an election year, an online consumer privacy bill isn’t likely to gain traction. But the threats to individual privacy online are rising.
The Oregonian, Portland (April 10)