Submission Number: 00027
Received: 4/21/2011 6:18:04 PM
Commenter: Cliff Tedder
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter Google, Inc. (Google Buzz), File No. 1023136
Attachments: No Attachments
It's been difficult to be a privacy advocate since 9/11. However, it has become obvious that the entities collecting, storing, selling, and using personal data are only going to restrict their activities to the extent FORCED on them by users, watchdogs, and the law. As always, their first defenses will be that they're collecting data for user convenience, accountability, or protection.
Such lax policies also apply to security and (cloud) reliability, where companies (and the public) are just now learning how difficult it is to truly protect data from theft or loss. I fear that the amounts of money to be made by storing and sharing the data far exceed anticipated losses through breaches and failures. As an engineer I understand that the technology described in "1984" and "This Perfect Day" is primitive compared to what is readily available today. I don't even like unconnected government agencies sharing data, and the idea of government data being stored in a cloud provided by a private commercial partner frightens me to death.
So far I have ignored enterprises which suggest that I go "paperless" with bills or other activities, and shunned those which insist on it, although of necessity I do some on-line ordering using PayPal or a separate credit card. In 45 years of paying through the mail, NOT ONCE have I had my information compromised, except for advertising glitches which have since been restricted. And I've been VERY CAREFUL, but in the short history of the Internet and linked credit computers I've already had my identity "stolen" in minor ways many times. Each of these problems resulted from inadequate supervision or control of computer activities -
* Several bogus $10 Internet credit card purchases (in hopes they wouldn't be noticed)?
* About $200 at a local store in LA, cost absorbed by VISA
* Problems with a credit reporting agency (TRW?) recording bad addresses and data based on inaccurate information from a credit card company.
* About 10 years ago I had an issue with the IRS, which couldn't even get complete info from their tax-collecting computer to the 1099-checking computer.
* Heartland Payment Systems (?) security breach resulted in a card number change, but no loss. The scary thing about this one was that they didn't even discover it until 6 months later.
* Attempt to buy $3K from Apple store using a card number compromised on the Internet or via a gas station scanner. I now pay cash for gas, so next time I'll know...
* One or two other credit card problems, but I've forgotten the details...
This all might be hopeless flailing at windmills, but regulators need to gain the same control of on-line activities that it did of credit card and credit reporting companies 25 or more years ago. Any future action by the FTC and other regulators, or especially through legislation, to extend such restrictions to general practice will be applauded by me.
Thanks for your time and attention.
Electrical engineer/programmer, age 66