Protecting Your Privacy Is Your Responsibility

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Allan Pratt, MBA

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How often do you think about your privacy rights?

You may think about them when an email breach or data security breach is documented by the mainstream media (remember, Sony, Epsilon, Citigroup, etc.) or maybe for a few brief seconds when Facebook makes changes without informing users.

But do you wonder what happens with your financial information when a background check is conducted for a new job? Do you wonder what happens to your driver’s license information when you’re asked to provide it on a new medical form? The truth is, you’re the only one who can safeguard your privacy.

Consumer advocate Jamie Court is the executive director of Consumer Watchdog in Southern California, and he helped to pioneer the HMO patients’ rights movement in the United States.

In his book, “Corporateering, How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom…And What You Can Do About It,” Court explains how big corporations routinely rob us of our personal freedoms, including privacy, security, and the right to legal recourse.

While personal privacy is a fundamental right for individuals, corporations have a different view, according to Court: “Banks, credit card companies, and insurers share individuals’ personal financial and medical information without permission.”

Fortunately, Court offers strategies so that we can reclaim our private lives, our right to health and safety, and other personal liberties. Here are some strategies to counter corporateering:

  • Tell a corporation to put you on its “do not call list.”
  • Send a corporation a note indicating that you choose to “opt out” of any information sharing.
  • Change a corporate contract – if you have issues with any portions of a contract, cross out the objectionable content before you sign.
  • Stop corporate junk faxes – since there is a federal law about sending unsolicited ads via fax, you may be able to recover financial awards if the junk faxes continue.
  • Challenge a corporation – put your complaint into writing and send it to the corporation, an industry regulator – and if no response or resolution, the media.

Court recommends that we follow the “Corporateer Quotient” and ask corporations questions that will force them to address these important concerns:

  • Does your corporation sell private information about its customers to other companies without their consent?
  • Does your corporation buy private information from other corporations about individuals that it uses to market to them?
  • Does your corporation seek a consumer’s consent before it shares personal information (the “opt in” system)?
  • Is there a process for allowing customers to “opt out” of solicitations or the sharing of their name and financial information with affiliates?

Have you done something noteworthy to counter corporateering? Chime in with your success story.

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Allan Pratt, an infosec consultant, represents the alignment of marketing, management, and technology. With an MBA Degree and four CompTIA certs in hardware, software, networking, and security, Allan translates tech issues into everyday language that is easily understandable by all business units. Expertise includes installation and maintenance of hardware, software, peripherals, printers, and wireless networking; development and implementation of integration and security plans; project management; and development of technical marketing and web strategies in the IT industry. Follow Allan on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/Tips4Tech) and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Tips4Tech).


Cross-posted from Tips4Tech

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Javvad Malik Nice article Allan, you're right, people need to be made more aware and exercise their privacy rights a lot more.

At the moment, there are a lot of areas where people are treated rather unfairly. For example end user agreement licenses strip a user of almost all rights once signed, e.g. Sony's recent update where a user has to agree to not pursue joint legal action against them unless it meets their requirements.

the more people are made aware they will push back against organisations and that will be the driver for change. Otherwise we'll be giving away our privacy one byte at a time.
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