The U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on this kind of fuckup. In 2006, Britain's senior tax official mailed off two CDs loaded with personal data for 25 million people. Both disks -- which were not encrypted -- were "lost in the mail." The U.K.'s government topped themselves in 2008, when an estimated 37 million items of personal data were lost across all levels of the government.
We always sort of assumed these guys were more diligent.
And if the government treats your data with all the care of a serial crack mother, private enterprise is no better. We all remember when Sony's PlayStation Network leaked the names, passwords and private home addresses of 77 million users. British Petroleum, too, in an apparent attempt to prove their mastery over all manner of leak, had another disaster in March of 2011. A BP employee "accidentally" lost a laptop filled with unencrypted private data for 13,000 people. And those people were all damage claimants seeking compensation for the Gulf oil spill. If you're paying attention, BP has finally crossed the line from "incompetent evil" to "cartoonish supervillainy."
We're all very proud.
Here's a simple rule to live by: if you put the information online, people can get at it. And if you choose to trust a third party with your data, they reserve the right to get hammered and forget to encrypt it. We all live in glass houses now. Even if you use black construction paper to cover your walls, someone can still shine a flashlight through and get a pretty good idea of what your naked body looks like.
Robert Evans writes about technology for I4U News, and the practical aspects of fish-fighting on his blog.
For more things you haven't realized about this here internet, check out 6 Things Our Kids Just Plain Won't Get and 7 Reasons Computer Glitches Won't Go Away (Ever).
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