Despite data breach notification laws across the country, many breaches just simply go unreported. We need changes in our legal systems to help shape market forces in behalf of privacy. SSNBreach.org was designed to help push market forces in favor of privacy.
Senator Benjamin Cardin has been kind enough to respond to my objections after a disturbing run-in with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in March, 2007. After months of prodding in my behalf, his office finally received a letter from DHS that purported to address my case. In reality, the letter was a complete side-step of the issues, which is not really surprising. So, I made a couple of direct requests to the Senator.
In late June, 2007 I discovered almost 200 files with personal information for 200,000 Louisianans, including 163,000 Social Security Numbers. The files were on a Louisiana State Board of Regents website that appeared to be an internal network, placed online without passwords in some areas.
I am working with the Liberty Coalition to launch SSNBreach.org, where affected individuals can search for their names to find out if they were affected by this, or future information breach.
When people say, "I have nothing to hide," they really mean, "I am not ashamed of anything." The truth is, we all have a lot to hide, and shame is just one of many reasons to keep information private or confidential. Having something to hide is not an admission of guilt, and it does not mean you have anything to be ashamed of.
We keep Social Security Numbers private not because we are ashamed of the number, but because we fear identity theft. Sometimes medical conditions remain confidential because others may react irrationally to them.
Privacy is the recognition that individuals and institutions act unreasonably and irresponsibly to the detriment of individuals and society, when in possession of truthful facts. Humans are biased.
In the context of a recent international trip, this podcast is about three things: First, the authority of the Department of Homeland Security to track the movement of United States citizens once they arrive in the country. Second, useless security tactics that harm freedom of movement and privacy without increasing security, and third, a growing culture of lawlessness and intimidation, as a result of expanding executive power, in the name of National Security.