Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Who's watching you and what do they know about you?

Wow, I haven't been here in a while, I hope that changes soon. I'm looking for a place to live (again) and hope to have something of my own soon. Then I'm sure I'll find plenty to write about. Soon, God please, let it be soon.

Anyway, here is something that Diane T. sent me and my response to it. I feel it is light and trite, but what else would've rhymed? RSVP


Make sure your sound is up and watch this little skit about buying pizza in the future. (Of course, it isn’t just about pizza, just an example after all.) Then read on…

This scenario is troubling on several levels. First off, I’m not sure there is reason for any concern at all; but still I feel alarm. Who we are, where we live & work, and our shopping habits are things that are known to many people now. The phone book has a few of them; those discount cards we use (some of us, anyway) at the supermarket & drugstores & elsewhere, track our shopping habits, and, of course, anyone who verifies your credit card will know if it is maxed out, won’t they? So, how ‘futuristic’ is what this is showing you anyway?

Of course, having your SSN (you don’t give that out to anybody but the Federal Government and your employer, do you?) would be very alarming; that is the beginning of identity theft. Your driver’s license is also troublesome, and for the same reason, but you have to show that when you pay by check, don’t you? (I have to show either my SSN or drivers license when I get some Rx’s, like narcotics.) When clerks write that info on your check (or Rx) does that go into their computers too? I wouldn’t like that.

The other troubling thing there is the medical information that crops up with the pizza order. This is probably the most troubling after information needed to steal your ID (and I didn’t see that – SSN, Driver’s License, and/or Passport number). I can see why the insurance companies would like that. The information used in this example is ‘good for you’ and if he elected to stay with his pizza then a premium would go to his insurance company. This is what makes it hard to know where to draw the line. It is easy to argue that this would be a good thing, after all why should everybody have to share the cost of other people’s risky behavior? If the cost would go down for people with good habits, as would be obvious on their medical records, and people with bad habits (double meat pizza’s, hi cholesterol, etc.) would pay penalties on their medical insurance, why not? After all, premiums on life insurance are adjusted along those lines. Medical records and lifestyle are definitely used to determine you premiums for life insurance, why not medical insurance? It has been shown that money is a great motivator, maybe we’d have a healthier population if that were done?

Of course, the insurance companies would love to increase premiums for people with the bad behavior; but can you even imagine them lowering anything for anybody? This sounds like an idea that looks good on paper but may not be realized in practice; something like Federal involvement in Education. (That will need to be addressed in another issue.)

Who would have access to all that information is the real problem, isn’t it? Look at all the stories in the news just recently about stolen private information; that is enough to give pause to this whole scheme. There is the rub, another idea that looks great on paper but reality has a way of turning it around. (Like all of the social engineering projects done at the Federal level; they looked good, sounded good, but turned into a major disaster when implemented. Things like Social Security, Medicaid, Welfare, Federal involvement in Education, etc. If implemented at all, these programs should be implemented and funded at the state level. Are we or are we not an Federation? As it is and the way it is going, there is little need for state government; and, that is a very bad thing.)

Then there is the acne laden adolescent at the pizzeria that is seeing all that information, isn’t there? Someone could pay them to collect info on people, couldn’t they? When I worked briefly in retail, I was amazed at the information that I could have harvested if I had a mind to; and, I’m sure there were people who must have. Having too much personal information available for trivial purposes can’t be a good thing, can it?

Maybe I should look at this as an opportunity… I could use a new identity! Hell, I’m thinking of just publishing my vitals just to get some dummy to steal it; maybe I would come out better after I got it straightened out? Ha, ha.

Let me know what your thoughts are on this, I need more understanding.

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