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Proposed Privacy Legislation

The Obama Administration is advocating a privacy bill.  One provision will limit the use of data to the purpose for which it was collected unless a consumer gives permission for additional uses; another will give consumers increased rights to access information about themselves.

Both of these provisions may actually reduce safety of data online.  One additional purpose for which data can be used is to verify identity in cases where there is some doubt.  Many of us have had the experience of having a merchant call a credit card company and ask a series of questions to verify our identity.  This bill would apparently make that process more difficult.  This would lead either to increased inconvenience or increased risk.  This provision is enforced in Europe and there is some evidence that identity theft is more common there.

There is also a danger of allowing increased access to information.  A thief who obtains some information about a consumer may be able to use this to spoof   the system and obtain access to much more information, which will facilitate more harmful forms of theft.

The more fundamental issue is that there is no cost benefit analysis showing that any regulation is justified, as I showed in my previous post on this issue.

Filed under: privacy