TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Arrests Made in Theft of VA Laptop Computer

Re: Arrests Made in Theft of VA Laptop Computer
7 Aug 2006 13:12:28 -0700

Sam Spade wrote:

> By far, the worst criminal in this case is the jerk government
> employee who took the data home.

I strongly disagree. The criminals were the kids who stole the
laptop, and the other criminals who perform identity theft. A second
level of criminals are those who created a system where identity theft
is a profitable enterprise, that is, allowing stolen identies to make
money. This is the area that needs reform.

Until very recently, the data involved was not considered "sensitive".
It's not military secrets. Until recently, having the data was
worthless because you couldn't do anything with it. But that was

What nobody -- government, business, and the armchair critics -- seems
to realize is that it's real easy to take home sensitive data without
even realizing it. It's very common for people to take home work;
people have done so for years. A person might be working on a
particular data column and not realize the row (record) contains
sensitive stuff like SSN or other critical stuff.

Don't forget that at one time work consisted of file folders. It's
hard to manipulate the data stored within. But now work is encoded on
computers and easy to steal and manipulate.

The Nixon Administration warned that the use of the SSN as a universal
identifier was dangerous for privacy concerns way back then and
recommended against it. Today it is the universal number and
impossible to function without it. The government requires kids to
get one at birth. Almost all organizations require it to check credit
on someone.

The retail world loves instant credit. That should be illegal.
Anyone wanting a credit card should have to fill out a handwritten
application and mail it in, with the card returned by Registered
Mail. A nuisance and expense no one would tolerate, but one that would
go a long way to control identity theft and fraud. There are other
controls that could and should be instituted by retailers won't
tolerate them.

Ordering on-line must get more controls to prevent fraud.

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