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Personal data trading totally out of control?

Recent insight into the extent of consumer personal data available for sale has shocked German authorities into emergency meetings to enact stronger new data protection laws. Like their U.S. counterparts, at least some held concerns and questions were being asked. Was SOX enough?

In undercover operations the German authorities were easily able to purchase the personal records of millions of people including telephone numbers and bank accounts.

That's not the least of it. A call centre whistle-blower was prompted to go to the authorities because some call centres were calling customers and, on the basis of the call alone, were billing customers who had not agreed to purchase anything. The call centre was already in possession of the customer's account details so they didn't even need to make a sale or ask for details, just talk and bill.

Apparently unless the consumer can prove that the call centre didn't have their personal bank account details prior to the call, a simple call log is enough to justify a charge. So make a call, bill the customer and you're guaranteed to get at least one charge through.

The profits are better for fraudsters with direct account debits because the fee's are lower than credit cards and without being able to do a credit card chargeback it's more difficult for the customer to recover the funds.

The privacy debate is warming up very quickly and with money directly linked to privacy, its going to get a whole lot hotter yet and those whistles might form a choir.

Even Google's new browser has been described as everything from a security risk to spyware and a behavioural marketing nightmare waiting to happen.

The vast amount of information browsers allow marketers to capture will also undoubtably be for sale too, either legally or illegally, and both scenarios will add to the security and privacy problems of consumers and likely result in more fraud and ID theft.

As for securing our data? That horse has bolted and every one of us must assume all our data is out there for sale either legally or illegally and it'll take a revolution in the payment space to neutralise the damage thats already been done.

There is of course a revolution coming...




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