Thursday, February 17, 2005

Something else for my dossier

As if there's probably not enough in it already, here's something else to put in my personal dossier: a critical post about the commercial company who keeps a dossier on me (and you).

In an earlier set of posts we talked about President Bush's desire for every American to have his or her own electronic medical record. In another piece we noted that the redoubtable Taser International, Inc., about whom we have developed some kind of shocking obsession, was trying to reassure everyone that when it sold its stun guns to the public it would be doing background checks on them to make sure that everyone who bought one was who they said they were ("Here's your package, Mr. Manson. Have a nice day.") and didn't have a criminal background (Bush Administration exclusion applies). How were they gong to do this? Through the Atlanta-based firm, ChoicePoint, Inc.

Now MSNBC reports that the folks with a criminal background have the last laugh, stealing (at least) tens of thousands of personal dossiers from ChoicePoint. Now the criminals have your name, address, Social Security number, credit reports and such other information as is in your personal record, or at least we know they have them for some 30,000 plus Californians whom they have notified, as required by California law. If you live in any other state, there is no such requirement that you be notified, so I guess you weren't notified. Were you.

ChoicePoint reportedly has 19 billion records (yes, billion), covering virtually every US citizen (as reported by SFGate). They sell personal information to 40 percent of the nation's top 1000 companies and have contracts with 35 government agencies, including law enforcement.

It must be heart wrenching for them to have released personal information to people without even the common decency to have paid them for it.