Thursday, November 02, 2006

Post 10: Technology and Privacy

Have you ever experienced any kind of personal information theft by others in a real world? (For example, your credit card information is used by others or your other personal information is used by others) If so, please share your experieces. If not, what do you think about the access to your personal information on the internet or new technolgy?


Chen, Ko-Jung said...

It is very rampant in my country that personal information was theft by criminals who manipulate this theft information to set a fraud or plot cheating people of their money and property. Inevitably, I did have these similar experiences happened on me, my relatives and friends around me every day. For the most of time, it is common that people register on-line bank account and are requested to provide personal information, and the information technology sell this private information to criminals who create another new bank account or new credit card. Further, in the census register department of city government, some vicious officers cooperate with criminals by offering citizens’ personal information. However, there is a very widespread and “popular” fraud to deceive people offering their own information or money incautiously. As regards my personal experience, I often receive a phone call that someone crying for me and says that he or she is my friends needing money for emergency by wiring they money through transfer. Furthermore, my mother and father often receive a phone call that there is someone who called themselves as my mother of father’s son, which is me, and was kidnapped by gangsters. Fortunately
, however, I was stand beside my mother and father and see through this plot, but there are many parents would believe this scam and wire the money or provide their personal information to the criminals.
The reason that these frauds happen so frequently in nowadays is that the digitalization not only bring us more and more convenience but also bring more and more trouble. There is only saying that “The water that bears the boat is the same that swallows it.” So is the digitalization. The digitalization makes it possible that we can store and more and more information and data without limited of space and time, but it stills allows criminals to steal these information and data more easily. The government, in my opinion, totally fail to regulate or block or prevent these incidents occurred when face to the innovation of new technology. Therefore, I think the government should pay more attention and take more responsibilities and more actions not only on the incidents of theft personal information but also on the undesired consequences of technology innovation.

Helen said...

I have never had my identity stolen. I take measures against it though, including using "hard" passwords on my bank/credit card accounts, checking them regularly, getting my free credit report from each of the reporting agencies every 4 months (once a year each), and shredding documents that I throw away that have too much identifying information (such as those "checks" that come with credit card statements).

One measure I have heard some politicians talking about is that, like when businesses use a piece of music they must pay the artist royalties, all individuals must be paid a royalty-like amount -- perhaps even less than a dollar -- each time their personal info is used. This way we would all know about it whenever a company received and used our information, and could do something to prevent it, and the costs associated with using mass amounts of data would go up dramatically. Companies would have to be certain of their return on investment of using personal data -- no mass spamming of credit card offers in our mailboxes. One drawback would be that there would have to be some sort of agency that tracked this, like the credit reporting agencies. Considering how big a chunk the music industry gets from its artists in collecting royalties for them, this may be an idea better relegated to theory than turned into practice.

Susu Qin said...

Oh, yes, I definitely had this experience of personal information theft through the internet. When I used the QQ messenger about four years ago when I was still sophomore, someone stole my password and changed it, then pretended me to talk with my friends and my relatives. This guy even tried to ask for my bank account infomation from my relatives and tried to borrow the money from my friends posing as my status and asked them send the money to him at his address. Well, fortunately, none of my friends and my relatives was cheated just before I found I lost my password.

Internet safety is an important issue currently since its widespread application. We have already used it in tremendous ways of dealing with a certain personal affairs, such as communicating with personal friends and business affairs, receiving and sending emails, internet shopping and banking, long distance learning, class registering and so on..If we can not protect the personal infomation safety against the theft, the public trust might disappear in our society, everyone will worry about their infomation safety. That will bring about the disorder of the society and credibolity crisis.

As for how to resolve this problem, I have to say this situation is inevitbable. As what we discussed about the technology determinism in class and what we read in Dr. Bugela's book, we know the negative effects can absolutely take on in our life with the advantages of the internet. Given that building up the complete regulation policies of the internet safety access and controlling the negative high-tech's application in internet world by the government might kind of solve this problem, I still think there must be more and more higher technologies coming out in the future which can be manipulated by criminals to do bad things such as the infomation theft. What we can best do is to reinforce people's awareness of protecting personal infomation, to look for better way to keep away potential dangers. In addition, using high-tech to secure the criminals who hide behind the internet and formulating relevant law to penalize them strictly can be another solution to improve the internet safety situation. From Dr Bugela's perspective, I am also thinking that infomation theft through internet may also encourage us to pay more attention to retrieve the interpersonal communication. If we go into the store to purchase the merchandies from the shopper instead of internet shopping, perhaps this kind of theft thing can be decreased a lot.

karenlee said...

I once had my Korean social security number stolen on "Clubox," a Korean website where users can download movies and songs as well as operate their own file sharing clubs. I couldn't sign on to the site because someone else had already used my social security number. When I finally managed to find out the ID and password, I realized that this person was an active member of the site, even operating his own club full of pornographic content! My friends were teasing me that it was probably myself who was running this club :P
But because this person was such an active member, he had accrued thousands of points available to download movies for free at a fast rate. So I changed the ID and the password, and now, I'm happily using up all the points.
Although my situation was not as serious as Ko-Jung or Su Su's, I strongly believe that there should be a different identification system for on-line and off-line spheres, as to avoid having one's social security number stolen and abused.

Poong Oh said...

My personal information may be not interesting for cyber thieves, probably because I seem not to be an attractive target of theft. However, I am very regretful that my personal information or privacy is too easily leaked out in a legal way. I have used several credit cards about six years. Regardless of my purpose, the credit card companies have gathered my personal information on my consuming behavior during the same period. They have all information on what kind of products, what kind of services, and when I purchased.
Of course, it is sometimes helpful for me. For example, they provide me customized information: for example, recommending other products that the others who bought what I bought also bought. Nonetheless, I never feel comfortable that somebody keeps watching what I do. I think privacy is the right to be alone without any disturbance by the others. This right is as important as the other right such as liberty and political participation.

Tom said...

I've personally never had an issue with it, but like Helen I'm pretty savvy to what needs to be done to protect it - unguessable passwords, vigilance, etc...

The issue with the digital technologies is how widespread the effects arewhen there is a vulnerability. Whether it's a loss of a laptop with crucial information or a hacked database, the potential for massive information leaks is much higher with new technologies; it's hard to steal an entire corporation's paper filing system... but the digital one (once accessed) is more readily lifted.

Additionally, the potential for fraud via phishing, or other 'social hacking' techniques has increased with the anonymity and ease of mass communication online. People need to be very careful about which websites they are actually visiting and where they post/store personal information. These additional avenues to your personal information put it more at risk.

Sandy Wang said...

I had the similar experience with Susu. My QQ messenger account was stolen when I was a freshman. But soon after that, my friend gave me a new account. And I sent messages to all my friends to tell them about that. It seems that the person who stole it only wanted to get the account, he did nothing after that. In china, users have to buy the account of QQ, so some people compile special computer program to steal QQ account. It’s common to have our QQ account stolen if we use our QQ in a internet cafe. I’m very careful with the use of bank account on the internet. So I have not experienced any serious internet privacy criminal.
But sometimes it brings some boring effect although not so serious. It’s common to have our email addresses sold to commercials by websites. So we get many junk emails. I think it’s a kind of personal information theft too.
I agree with Karen that new identification system should be used in internet. And more strict regulation and law should be published for internet criminal. And the government should find a effective way to authenticate website. Websites should get a special sign from the government to show the credits of them, so internet users can know which website is safe to put their personal information on.

Avril Adrianne de Guzman said...

This is a very interesting, albeit frightening idea. Fortunately, I have never had any of my online identitifications stolen. Maybe this is also because I put up very minimal digital information online. I put up photos (I can't make sure my photos have not been appropriated for other unintended purposes but that's beside the point) and very few blogs along with websites for the classes I taught back home.

However, since I have been here, I have had to buy stuff online and I can't be 100% sure that the credit card numbers and other private information will not be hacked and appropriated by someone else. It is a pretty scary idea. Come to think of it, it is no longer so far-fetched in this time and age compared to when movies like The Net hit the box.

I do not know what the consequences for an identity thief are, but I think that one measure that could be done is for these crimes to have really high stakes so people will at least think twice before doing it. Maybe the government can also put up more stringent policies for companies who have to solicit personal information and really hold these companies to their responsibilities instead of being won over by lawyer legalese (like in Soonok's readings).

Soonok said...

I didn't have any experience such as my ID or personal information stolen. I might.... (not sure) However, I had experience of my personal information is used by other persons when I worked for Samsung. Since Samsung has a intranet system, which is actually used by all the employees, employees can have access to the person's information if he or she works for Samsung. One day, I got a phone call from a man... I don't know the man at all. He just told me that he knew me because he once saw me when I was a freshman at college. He heard about that I worked for Samsung and he also worked for Samsung. He search my personal information through intranet. He found out the phone number, working place, and email address... And finally sent an email... called....
That was kind of bothering and scaring at that time... Since I don't know the man... at all... Anyway, the point is that somebody can track down your information very easily and use that for their sakes... That fact is really scary.

I don't know which way is the best to protect our privacy. Public awareness about this serious issue, the government's appropriate actions such as making new regulations to prevent thiese information leak, and individual's ethical behavior toward the privacy should be enhanced... I believe that it will be a long way to go... However, we should start step by step.

john thomas said...

I have never had my identity stolen. I have been misidentified though...after 9/11 I (john thomas) was put on a terrorist watch list... during that time frame I traveled by air nearly every week.
This was an unbelievable hassle, I often got searched above and beyond what a normal passenger experiences.
This has been going on for over five years now, fortunately, I no longer fly very often.

I cannot imagine how horrible it would be to have your identity stolen -- I am sure it would take years to correct.

Twice, airlines refused to let me fly. Both cases happened in Des Moines and all I could do was return home.
I tried for about 3 months to correct the listing, and finally got through to a US senator, Grassely of Iowa.. He had oversight on the FBI committee and made sure I was contacted by the FBI. When I finally talked to them, I was told that a confirmed terrorist was using my name as an alias. He was described as a very “bad guy” and they would not remove my name from the list until he was confirmed dead – end of subject.