Personal Data Transparency

Today's WSJ shines a light on
When Public Records become too Public.

Here are a few reasons why public record disclosure facilitates transparency in government and industry.
  • Open chronicles who and what organizations give to various causes... it's no surprise that NAR and Goldman Sachs top the list of 2006 contributors from finance, insurance and real estate.
  • States are requiring disclosure of payments to doctors - NY Times, June 27, 2007 - and psychiatrists make the most money from drug companies than any other practice...
  • FEMA must release disaster relief records - June 26, 2007 - of course, FEMA is fighting it, citing citizen privacy concerns, but one can imagine how many corrupt payments will be uncovered.
  • Open government experts say secrecy endangers public Sandusky Register, June 25, 2007- the article discusses an example of how Ohio's secrecy provision on people who purchase concealed handguns makes it difficult to ensure these handguns aren't being registered to criminals. "If the records are private, I have to rely on the sheriff to make sure he's not making any mistakes," Smith said.
  • For real estate transactions, online disclosure of title and court lien documents has streamlined the approval processes inherent within the transaction.
Here are a few threats to personal privacy:
  • Your name listed prominently as title holder for your home at this new home valuation site
  • People search comprises 30% of all searches - that seems pretty scary when considering how many potential overseas identity thieves there are.
  • A cottage industry of personal data disclosure websites seems set up to facilitate ID theft...
  • Credit agencies sell consumer credit monitoring subscriptions and thus, seem incentivized to be lax about correcting identity and credit fraud so they can sell more subscriptions. I've always found this outrageously contradictory, yet I couldn't find any articles about this unique business model.
From WSJ When Public Records become too Public:
Property deeds, marriage and divorce records, court files, motor-vehicle information and tax documents are increasingly being digitized, and contain a wealth of information that few of us would want online: Social Security numbers, birth dates, maiden names and images of our signatures. Local governments have rushed to put those documents online for a decade or so, often without scrubbing them of such information. And that's made them potentially fertile ground for busybodies, stalkers and identity thieves.

Conclusion: personal data being disclosed online come from so many fragmented sources - government, title plants, hospitals, police, etc. - it's probably impossible to develop public records disclosure standards that will be rigidly monitored. Data transparency has pushed us into a new era of personal vulnerability.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


What did you think of this article?

  • No trackbacks exist for this post.
Page: 1 of 1
  • 6/28/2007 5:57 AM Geno Petro wrote:
    Hey Pat. Very interesting read. I just hope that whoever steals my identity does a better job with my life than I have...

    ha ha,

    Reply to this

  • 6/29/2007 5:23 AM Karl Lingenfelder wrote:
    It would seem that current Privacy Laws should apply.

    All this data becoming digitized on the web will just defeat itself as there will be too much info to sift through.

    Similar to California Real Estate Seller Disclosure requirements. There are so many disclosures in a transaction, that Buyers don't read them.

    ---Karl Lingenfelder
    Reply to this

Page: 1 of 1
Leave a comment

Submitted comments are subject to moderation before being displayed.


 Email (will not be published)


Your comment is 0 characters limited to 3000 characters.