Following close on the heels of the news about ChoicePoint, another “I’m a large corporation and I just exposed the personal data of lots of Americans, and ho ho ho I’m just going to apologize.”
“Bank of America Corp. has lost computer data tapes containing personal information on 1.2 million federal employees, including some members of the U.S. Senate.”
There are a whole bunch of problems here.
I’ve been reading “The Digital Person” by Daniel J. Solove, and it’s been an eye-opener about the problems associated with the construction, storage, and use of digital dossiers. It’s possible that I haven’t gotten to the main point yet, but even in the beginning, he makes some good observations – the problems we’re facing here aren’t necessarily malicious, but they are impersonal and uncaring. The fact that an individual piece of data doesn’t really matter if it’s revealed doesn’t mean that lots of pieces all revealed together aren’t a problem.
There are synergistic network effects at play here. It needs to be recognized that the “simple” collection and aggregation of large amounts of data has side effects in and of itself.