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Selling Other People's Identities 146

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the information-trade dept.
joeflies writes "The San Francisco Chronicle has an extensive article on the controversial site Jigsaw, which makes it easy to sell other people's identity information. Jigsaw encourages people to collect business cards and email signature blocks, which is compiled together into a searchable database. Participants earn points towards their own searches or earn money. Is this exactly what Scott McNealy meant when he said electronic privacy is dead?"
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Selling Other People's Identities

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  • by telchine (719345) on Friday September 08, 2006 @01:20AM (#16064306)
    Can business cards be classed as private? Surely the idea of giving them out is so they get spread far and wide?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Qadesh (998988)
      Is jigsaw taking any steps to ensure that only information from sources like business cards is uploaded. What is to stop users from uploading information they've obtained by other means?
      • by Sam Ritchie (842532) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:16AM (#16064460) Homepage
        Is it Jigsaw's responsibility to police how people use their service?

        Now answer again, pretending that Jigsaw is an ISP or a filesharing software developer.
        • by Qadesh (998988)
          But they are not an ISP and if they were the considerations would be quite different
          • How would the considerations be different? An ISP provides a service which, whilst it has many legitimate uses, can be used to violate an individual's privacy. What steps do ISPs take to ensure web pages served from their address block or hosted servers (or information from their whois service, or emails sent via their relay etc) do not contain inappropriate information?

            Also, I was visiting a website the other day and was informed that my computer was broadcasting an IP address to the internet! Surely that'
            • Jigsaw collates this information, locks it behind a subscriber wall, and rewards people that submit new information by letting them read things that have been gathered by others. it's unfair to claim that Jigsaw is just an objective carrier for this information, they're managing it
        • by Rix (54095)
          How about if we pretend its a dairy farm, or paper plant?
        • by Sleepy (4551)
          >Is it Jigsaw's responsibility to police how people use their service?
          >Now answer again, pretending that Jigsaw is an ISP or a filesharing software developer.

          Wrong question.

          Legal filesharing is a fact of life no matter what the RIAA/MPAA do to taint the P2P market.
          P2P makes it easier to publish works (good), and so harder to shut down sources faster than they appear (bad, if you are a reactionary, or if your copyright is being violated).

          You can draw an analogy to the block printing press, which in its
      • by Sam Ritchie (842532) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:27AM (#16064489) Homepage
        Actually, now that I've read TFA (gauche, I know), the CEO is quoted as saying "Jigsaw doesn't touch non-business information with a 10-foot pole", lists examples of the type of information not accepted, and relates a circumstance in which inappropriate information was removed. So, yes.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AngryNick (891056)

        What is to stop users from uploading information they've obtained by other means?

        You mean from phonebooks, mailboxes, and tombstones? I assume they go by a stringent code of honor.

        I fully support a person's right to limit the distribution of his contact info, however, my email sig and business cards are no longer mine when I publish them or give them away. It sucks that someone I don't know can send me an email or call me, but that's what I get for living in the world today.

        Perhaps people could copy

    • by wannabgeek (323414) on Friday September 08, 2006 @01:41AM (#16064373) Journal
      It may be true if you're in some kind of sales job or something where you want all the people who are interested in it to contact you. I give out my business card only to people who I want to give my contact information to. It's just an easy way of giving out contact info, that's all. If there was an easier way of transferring my contact details - may be a single button press on bluetooth phone to phone transfer, I will do that instead.
      • So I have to ask, is the reason Slashdot is refusing to let me log in, and meta-moderation has been down for four days now...because CowboyNeal and CmdrTaco are waiting for the eBay auction to close. I think I'll bid $0.25 for all the users and passwords on slashdot.

        I kid, I kid.
    • by Riding Spinners (994836) on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:22AM (#16064611)

      Jigsaw [jigsaw.com] isn't putting up your grandmother's Social Security number, nor is it hosting pictures of you and your dog. All they host (and all they want) is business contact information. This isn't a violation of privacy... it's a boon for businesses to contact other businesses. It has no desire to be a Zabasearch [zabasearch.com] clone.

      If the submitter had bothered to read the article, they would've seen this very important message:

      Jigsaw wants only business information. The company won't take home addresses, cell phone numbers or e-mail addresses from Gmail, AOL, Yahoo or other domains that are not identifiable business e-mails. "Jigsaw doesn't touch non-business information with a 10-foot pole..."

      So there you go. Someone decides to conglomerate the information any moron can find in a "Contact" page on a corporate Web site, and the privacy nuts freak out — despite the fact that it has nothing to do with privacy. I love how some people commented about creating fake identites and submitting them. Well, unless Mr. John Doe has his own domain and business license, I don't think that fake info will do any good!

      Perhaps CowboyNeal [cowboyneal.org] needs to see a psychiatrist about his manic-depressive and schizophrenic paranoia disorders. At the very least, he should apologize to Jigsaw (if not to all of Slashdot).

      • by morie (227571)
        Jigsaw doesn't touch non-business information with a 10-foot pole...

        That's 3 metres, for you SI fetishists
    • Since you are the author of your own life, the copyright of all data connected to you should be yours en you should get the money and give permission. Currently companies claim the copyright on your personal data! Likewise is it strange that for instance Google and the ad-sense publishers are making money on your data, which they collect without your permission and store forever. In fact they steal it from you and don't honour the author of the data. Jigsaw has much better ethics and it is at least transp
  • It's easy... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...conduct a concerted effort to steal the identy of jigsaw's CEO (Jim Fowler), then use that identity to sink his company.
    • Brilliant Plan:

      Upload the entire /. userbase into jigsaw, totally destroying their signal/noise ratio.

      After all, I'm a troll: aren't you?
  • Is it really? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by TVAFR (992256)
    Since this business contact information, be it on business card or in email signature is already willfully given out by owner I think it is not "selling out people identity" strictly speaking. It is a kind of mining and aggregating public data.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shotgunefx (239460)
      Yes and no. Not everyone gives out business cards indiscriminately.
  • I am just waiting for the first law suit. This guy had better have some deep pockets, cause I am sure it will not be long before someone sues.

    Very dangerous territory.

    • Sues on the grounds of what?

      If I hand out cards to all sorts of people, stating that my name is John Smith, I'm vice president of silly walks at Acme Industries, my phone number is (123)456-7890, and my email is jsmith@acme.com, can I really then make a case that I had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" for that data?

      That's not to say that I like data-mining, mind you, but if everyone from grocery stores to the NSA can get away with it on the grounds that the information was already publically availa

      • If I hand out cards to all sorts of people, stating that my name is John Smith, I'm vice president of silly walks at Acme Industries, my phone number is (123)456-7890, and my email is jsmith@acme.com, can I really then make a case that I had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" for that data?

        yes... one of my phone numbers is ex-directory (the direct line to my desk). I only hand out business cards with that number on to those I want to know it... the other business cards have my public numbers... when my

    • by smoker2 (750216)
      The layers are going to love this one.
      Beware the Mutant Legal Ninja Chickens !
  • by davidwr (791652) on Friday September 08, 2006 @01:24AM (#16064317) Homepage Journal
    Better stop handing out those Daily Planet business cards.

    --Superman
  • Wow, that's messed up.
  • by mendaliv (898932) on Friday September 08, 2006 @01:26AM (#16064322)
    Fowler, the CEO of Jigsaw, is quoted as making an interesting comparison in the article. He likens Jigsaw to Wikipedia in so much as Jigsaw is a user-supported advertisment database, like Wikipedia is a user-supported encyclopedia.

    What he fails to realize is just how far this user-supportedness can go. Just like with Wikipedia, I imagine that Jigsaw will be hounded by vandals and the like, dumping loads and loads of false information into Jigsaw's database.

    Moreover, since Jigsaw is going against basic principles of privacy, I can imagine that we're going to see a lot more problems than with Wikipedia from "vigilante vandals".
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dan828 (753380)
      And just like Wikipedia, the info has to be taken with a grain of salt. I just looked up my company on Jigsaw-- the only thing that they had correct was the name and phone number. Number of employees, industry, and everything else was wrong. The info would be entirely useless to anyone using it to try and make sales contacts. I have to think that the crap factor is pretty damned high for most of the data.
    • by zeruch (547271)
      I am curious to see what kinds of lawsuits he will eventually run into (and I am quite sure he will), or in turn seeing people going in and editing their contact data to be extremely bogus (such as to change it to Mr. Fowler's for example).
    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      I imagine that Jigsaw will be hounded by vandals and the like, dumping loads and loads of false information into Jigsaw's database.

      Unlike Wikipedia, you have to pay $25/month to use this. Also, you're not anonymous, so if you are identified as a vandal, your entered data can be removed. They also limit input to 25/entreis month.

      Moreover, since Jigsaw is going against basic principles of privacy

      There are lots of business directories like this, starting with the Yellow Pages. The main difference is tha

      • Unlike Wikipedia... you're not anonymous, so if you are identified as a vandal, your entered data can be removed. They also limit input to 25/entreis month.

        Great. So the barriers for participation in a nefarious identity-mining site are higher than for Wikipedia. Which means that scenarios like this one are playing out in the back of school buses across the land:

        Punk_01: "D00d! I got a great idea! Let's scam that new teacher, I glommed his biz card, we can put his phone number and shit online!"

        Punk_02:
        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          Great. So the barriers for participation in a nefarious identity-mining site are higher than for Wikipedia...

          Even if someone could insert names in this site, the "identity theft" hysterically hyped in the summary is unlikely, perhaps a few more marketing calls than usual. Your "punks" would have more fun signing their teacher up for a gay dating service.

      • by metamatic (202216)

        I imagine that Jigsaw will be hounded by vandals and the like, dumping loads and loads of false information into Jigsaw's database.

        Unlike Wikipedia, you have to pay $25/month to use this.

        ...so I'm never going to correct incorrect information about me or my company that they have online.

        And this is a good thing how, exactly?

        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          ...so I'm never going to correct incorrect information about me or my company that they have online. And this is a good thing how, exactly?

          Who said it was good?

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  • by Lord Aurora (969557) on Friday September 08, 2006 @01:28AM (#16064325)
    For anyone who hasn't RTFA yet, go do it now. The summary is a mess of paranoia, and, while there might be something to actually worry about with Jigsaw, TFA does a great job of showing how it works and what exactly could and could not happen. The creator likens Jigsaw to Wikipedia--and it's a pretty good comparison, in that both rely solely on users to edit and maintain information. No, Wikipedia doesn't aid in identity theft--separate issue entirely. Depending on how stupid your average Jigsaw user is, it could be a great tool or a dangerous advantage.

    Given how stupid your average human is, though, there isn't much hope for the former.

  • by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @01:29AM (#16064329) Homepage Journal
    As posters already pointed out, there are no such things as private business cards. Besides, your local library probably has access to ReferenceUSA [google.com], which is a compendium of Personal and Business information extraordinaire. Opinion: overreaction.
    • Before many /.'ers were born (or sentient, anyway), Lotus released Lotus Marketplace [wikipedia.org], a database of 7 Million business (then individuals) for use by whoever for whatever. The uproar in 1991 caused Lotus to discontinue these offerings. Now it's really no big deal that several companies do it, but people don't want a bunch of individuals doing it. Slippery slope... but we're so far along it that there's no point in trying to stop it.
  • by edunbar93 (141167)
    Sell your soul! Hell, sell someone else's soul! We don't care! We at evilpeople.com, we will buy souls wholseale!
  • Hello $FetchFirstNameFromIP, would you like to play a game?
  • To quote Kosh from Babylon 5, "And so it begins."

    For ages, these same poor put upon privacy-deprived businesses have been pirating our personal information and trading it around.

    Now it has come back home to bite them on the butt.

    Maybe now we'll see them use their lobbyists to buy some privacy laws. Then everyone will want to participate in those protections. Hmmmmmm. Good idea, Jigsaw!
    • by Don_dumb (927108)

      For ages, these same poor put upon privacy-deprived businesses have been pirating our personal information and trading it around

      Not all of the people in a 'rollodex' are going to be businesses, many would be clients perhaps. I am pretty sure that in the UK if they aren't businesses then any unauthorised selling or distribution of that personal data is illegal (the Data Protection Act), not sure if that t DPA covers business data also.

      In TA he cites the example of people who buy houses and enter themselves

      • You are correct: this kind of business would quickly run into trouble if it tried operating in Europe.

        Distributing and processing personal data without consent is an offence under the UK Data Protection Act, and much of the rest of Europe has similar laws. IAALBINMY (I am a lawyer but it's not my area), but I'm fairly sure it covers personal data in a business context.
  • by poliopteragriseoapte (973295) on Friday September 08, 2006 @01:39AM (#16064363)

    The scandal is not that people are selling and buying that kind of information. The scandal is that companies accept that kind of information as identification information.

    The scandal is that anyone can pretend to be me by knowing my name, address, phone number, and social security number, and little more sometimes, but not always. NONE of those pieces of information was EVER meant to be secret. We have to write our social security number in zillion of places, our employers know it - nobody in his right mind could trust that as a piece of identification information!

    Yet this is exactly what companies do, because they bear little of the cost, and there is no legislation that forces them to be more selective with what they accept as identification information (read with what little info one could access the phone record of Thomas Perkins).

    And all the while, better tools for identifications are widely available. I could identify myself to my bank simply by sending them a PGP-signed email: all that this requires of me is to click on the "sign it" button in Thunderbird - and I get incredibly better security than monkeying around with SSNs.

    Yes, people with PGP tend to have small webs of trust - but this is because of lack of legislation that requires better identification for transaction, and also, for lack of public services. In my city, want to tell the tree pruners that the city tree next to my house needs some pruning? There is a phone number and a very kind and helpful employee on the other end of the line. Want to get your PGP key signed by a city/county officer that checks your papers thoroughly? No hope. You have to somehow know someone who is connected enough to others that need PGP (package maintainers, for instance). Tree haestetics surely ranks higher than basic identity security, even though our nation is more and more based on remote transactions.

    Our legislation, and public services, are late some 20 years regarding identity management. The scandal is that they are not brought up to date faster, not that some people are selling email footers that we send around for free.

    • And all the while, better tools for identifications are widely available. I could identify myself to my bank simply by sending them a PGP-signed email: all that this requires of me is to click on the "sign it" button in Thunderbird - and I get incredibly better security than monkeying around with SSNs.

      Yes, and no. You get better security, as long as your system isn't trojaned, wormed, or compromised. (And no, running Linux or OSX doesn't make you immune to these problems, though it helps) And so long as a m
      • Look, they could issue (for $100? or how much it costs) to people devices which are able to sign with a private key a short string of digits (16? 20?) that they dictate to you over the phone. You dictate back the 20 digits of the signature. The company verifies with the public key on record. No complication, no computer needed.

        Ultimately secure? Not. The keys would be most likely too short, yadayada. But anything like this would be VASTLY better than relying on the same 9-digit fixed number (the SSN

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mcrbids (148650)
          Look, they could issue (for $100? or how much it costs...

          Ok. 300 Million people in the USA. Times $100. That's $30 BILLION dollars. So much for cheap.

          to people devices which are able to sign with a private key a short string of digits (16? 20?) that they dictate to you over the phone. You dictate back the 20 digits of the signature.

          Ever enter a WEP key? It's 26 letters long. I have to retype one at LEAST 2 or 3 times TWICE in order to get it to work, when I have the key printed right in front of me. Do you
          • $100. Cheap. How much do you think it costs you to get a passport? Or a driver licence? Same order of magnitude. And most likely, if you mass produce it, it could be $20 (it shouldn't cost more than a pocket calculator).

            Lose it? Call and ask for the key to be revoked. Somebody else voids your key? It is a nuisance, to be sure: bring it in and have it reprogrammed. I mean, also credit cards get lost, it's not the end of the world.

            Somebody get my $100 thingie? They can do exactly what they can do

    • The FEDERAL government should start an X.509 PKI. It should issue CA keys all the state governments. They can pass them down to the birth-certificate-issuing level. Then, instead of a birth certificate, you get a credit card with a smart card which has a key signed up through the federal one.

      Any COTS smart card reader could verify that you are legit.

      This would cost a little bit of money initially, but it would pay for itself thousands of times over due to the reduction it fraud.

      It isn't perfect--it is as cl
    • Actually, Federal law restricts the use of the SSN to the Social Security program. All other uses are prohibited. Of course, absolutely everyone ignores this bit of regulation, including all levels of government.
      • Actually, Federal law restricts the use of the SSN to the Social Security program.

        Actually, it doesn't. The law only covers government agencies. From the SSN FAQ [faqs.org]:

        The Privacy Act of 1974

        The Privacy Act of 1974 (Pub. L. 93-579, in section 7), which is the
        primary law affecting the use of SSNs, requires that any federal, state,
        or local government agency that requests your Social Security Number has
        to tell you four things:

        1: The authority (whether granted by statute, or by executive order of
        the
        Pres

        • by tm2b (42473)
          Especially retarded readers might object that the above doesn't directly contradict the OP since it only says that governmental agencies must be authorized to use the SSNs and provide a provacy notice. Some of the uses specifically authorized by federal law are provide by the CPSR on their pages: [cpsr.org]

          Social Security numbers were introduced by the Social Security Act of 1935. They were originally intended to be used only by the social security program. In 1943 Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9397 which requ

  • Post your Jim Fowler sightings here!
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  • by AriaStar (964558) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:04AM (#16064433) Journal
    The title given to this section is misleading. My ID was stolen when I was 18, and I've lived the last seven years of my life as the victim of ID theft. Business information is not selling identities. Selling my driver's license number, social, etc., would be.

    Although annoying, truthfully this guy isn't doing anything wrong and it seems he's compiling a database of business contact information accessible via a paid subscription or by adding business contact info. Only if he allowed personal or home information would this be wrong.

    I always get this odd sens eo fpride at how much goes on in my own back yard, and it reminds me of part of the reason I love living in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.
  • For my needs, I don't steal identities, I make [fakenamegenerator.com] them. :-)
  • by 26199 (577806) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:52AM (#16064546) Homepage

    Quite a few times I've thought, wouldn't it be nice if America had the same data privacy laws... this is a good example of why they're needed.

    In the UK a database of personally-identifiable information automatically needs permission from every single individual concerned, unless it's exempt for some reason. Even if it is exempt the data can only be kept for the purpose it was collected for, and not shared. Once it's no longer needed it has to be destroyed.

    It's a good example of putting individual rights before business interests. Not something the USA excels at...

    • by Tim C (15259)
      You forgot to mention that you also have the right to request/demand a copy of all information held about you, and that the company must provide it for a reasonable fee; I *think* that there is a limit on that charge of £10 or £20 or so, to cover administrative costs, although I'm not 100% certain.
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:04AM (#16065104)

      Our data protection laws in the UK aren't nearly as powerful as you (and most people) think, unfortunately, and while I think our current Information Commissioner is a pretty good guy, he can only protect our privacy with the powers he's given in law.

      For example, take a look at the kind of data Transport for London have (or at least used to have) in their data protection entry, and tell me it's really all needed to meet the business requirements of that organisation.

      Moreover, the number of exemptions is pretty staggering. Why are credit reference agencies permitted to keep vast amounts of personal data about me without my consent? (Don't tell me it's those signs at the shop counters; I read the small print, and I've read my credit report, and the two are not related in any meaningful way.) The last time I dealt with a credit reference agency (to clean up someone else's mistake that was black-marking my record incorrectly) I discovered that there were, quite literally, more inaccurate entries in my record than accurate ones. After waiting on hold for more than half an hour to speak to someone about them, I was asked after about five minutes "whether it really mattered", since "it's after 6pm and I'm supposed to be going home now". Seriously, that's what they told me, after a half-hour on hold, when the records they had on me that could directly affect my ability to get a mortgage or something were written in someone's dreamland.

      Other legal powers aren't as great as you might expect, either. For one thing, while you can normally get bad information corrected, if you just don't want someone to store your personal information any more, you can't make them stop, as long as they're registered for that purpose. Take Amazon, for example. I bought from them using a credit card for the first time not so long ago. After going through the usual signing-up process and completing my order, I discovered that they are now keeping my credit card number on-file, and will use it any time someone makes an order from them using my login and password (which they control), without any further attempt to confirm my identity or intent to make that transaction. Can I make them drop that number from their database and opt to re-enter it every time I make a purchase instead? Take a guess. And this in a world where thousands of people's credit card numbers or other personal details have been "misplaced" by large businesses in the past year alone, and in a country where the law does not currently require a company making such mistakes to disclose them publicly or to pay any particularly heavy fines for doing so.

      So while I agree we have better data protection laws than many, I think we have a long way to go before our data is protected as well as it should be.

    • Offtopic, but your sig links to a website saying they've stopped doing business.
      • by 26199 (577806)

        Yes... it's very sad. Still worth buying second-hand, but unfortunately the risk of hardware failure becomes an issue and they're even more expensive...

    • It would also be illegal in Canada too:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Information_ Protection_and_Electronic_Documents_Act [wikipedia.org]
      http://www.privacyinfo.ca/ [privacyinfo.ca]

      For the record, this privacy law definitely makes writing inhouse programs for the enterprise interesting since you can't automatically assume that just because you have information available for use in the company, that you reuse it for another use within the company, even if the typical employee would expect such reuse to happen. You have to be explicit
  • How Prescient! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:54AM (#16064555)
    "Is this exactly what Scott McNealy meant when he said electronic privacy is dead?"

    Yes. This is exactly what he meant.
    After leaving his job as CEO of Sun, McNealy went on to found Jigsaw.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)
      Hmm. has anyone looked up Scott McNealy on this, or other, websites?
    • I love that "privacy is dead" quote of his.

      Of course, I'll actually believe it when he posts his credit card numbers, nude pictures of his wife, and the itinerary and security arrangements for his family for the next month on a public web site.

      Until he puts his money where his mouth is, he's just defending unethical behaviour with a sound-bite.

  • by tontammer (988352)
    Speaking of privacy, theres a much better way to talk online with people we already know and trust.Grupus [grupus.com]
  • Good. I see the connection: Scott McNealy is from Sun, Sun produced java, and Jigsaw [w3.org] was written in java. Glad there's no namespace confusion here.
  • They have the contact details by definition, so there's no reason they couldn't be contacting people and asking permission put them in the database.
  • by Hovsep (883939) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:33AM (#16064758)
    I received an e-mail one day from someone selling a how-to book. The advertisement had a plug for Jigsaw at the bottom citing it as the source, so I decided to check this out. The e-mail address it came to was one that I'd given only to HP for their reseller program. The address and other info Jigsaw had about me matched the mailing address I'd given HP, which was pretty new at the time and I'd only given it HP. I guess someone at HP decided to earn Jigsaw points by stealing HP's list.

    I had no luck contacting Jigsaw or deleting my information from their site via their form, but I did complain about this to HP. HP contacted me the next day and appologized for letting this happen. Shortly thereafter my information from Jigsaw was removed.

    I've also caught several other companies that promise to not share my contact information using the same method. It's pretty effective and I just redirect those stolen addresses to /dev/null. I just won't do business with them anymore.

    Jigsaw may claim that their information is only from sources like business cards that are handed out, but I can say for certain in my case that they just got a stolen customer list. They have no way of assuring that the data comes from legal sources like business cards. I see lawsuits in their future as they get more publicity like this. "We didn't know it was stolen" is not an acceptable excuse.
  • by golodh (893453) on Friday September 08, 2006 @05:17AM (#16064876)
    For better or worse, trading people's identity information is legal.

    There is no sense in complaining about it since the whole US legal system happens to be designed to protect people's freedoms (such as the one to trade other people's identity information) from the snap judgement of their fellow man, especially when those freedoms are unpopular. And as we all know it's common business practice to disregard most "moral" considerations in the pursuit of revenues. Of course there is always the possibility of those revenues being affected by the backlash of being unpopular, but the decision criterion is always revenue, never morals or ethics. So impopularity only works if the backlash is large enough and inescapable enough. And that only for as long as the costs outweigh the benefits.

    Which it probably won't be of course ... there are far too many issues clamouring for everyone's attention to guarantee that anyone who doesn't devote his whole spare time (or even his whole life) to being angry and upset about this or that abuse or scandal just won't have the time to much of an effective force. A handful of grumblers won't matter, but one powerful grumbler does. From the article it's interesting to see that when an individual complains to this company to have his own information removed, he is ignored. When HP complains, the information is taken down pronto. A clear case of cost-benefit tradeoff: an individual's ire (he hasn't got rights, but he might make a nuisance of himself) doesn't count for much. A large company's ire (they don't have any rights either, but they can afford a battery of lawyers to make life difficult for you) is something to be taken very seriously. Elementary economics.

    Therefore, as I see it, new legislation is the only way to stop this sort of thing. Personally I would be in favour of legislation stating that you and you alone "own" your identity data, and that no-one (especially no companies) may hold or store any piece of it without your permission, and that they are obliged by law to fully disclose all information they hold on you upon first request, and that they are obligated to allow you to correct any information they hold on you, say within 20 business days. All of this enforceable on pain of say a 1000$ fine per case.

    That would be too bad for companies that make a living from trading information, but I happen to rank my privacy over their survival and I wouldn't mind seeing them go.

    The point is of course that the majority doesn't seem to support any such law. So unless there is enough political will to enact some legislation to protect our identity information from being sold it's no use grumbling. Unless you manage to grumble loudly enough to make an impact of course.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday September 08, 2006 @06:14AM (#16064996)
    I actually have a few business cards, email addresses and other tracking sources that would most likely cause you to search in all the wrong places for me. It was actually for a LARP, but then again, why not use it to cover tracks? If you can't avoid data being collected about you, just make sure the data is false.
  • Woman walks up to man with Russian accent sitting in black van: "I'd like to buy an identity" Man hops out of van, slides open side door, there's just a computer inside. He points at an Excel sheet: "Ahh, yes! I have maaaany identities for sale, veeery cheap! Look at this one, the Silkwood: Visa Classic, SI number, excellent credit rating! It fell off back of truck." Woman points to computer screen Excel sheet: "No, I want something more powerful. Hmmm... what about that one?" Man pushes her hand away: "Tha
  • This is first time I hear about usage of that type of identity theft (business card information).

    After I read the article, I realized that it is mostly not about identity theft, but privacy. Not about "identity" information, but "contact" information. The original title of the article says nothing about identity theft. It does mention it in general terms in the text.

    Very misleading title. What is wrong, BTW, of copying the original title, if you are not sure you understood the article? Right. The problem is
  • by AlgorithMan (937244) on Friday September 08, 2006 @08:23AM (#16065349) Homepage
    in germany it is illegal to pass someones name,adress,phonenumber,etc on without his approval...

    thats why there are always guys on the street asking people if they want to win this and that - they only have to answer the quiz question (like 2+2=4 or 60000000000000?) where the damn answer is somewhere on the pamphlet and if you don't know, then they tell you the answer BECAUSE they only want you to fill out the form (name, adress, phone number) and SIGN that you agree to the conditions of the tombola

    the conditions are on the back side of the form, written in light gray in font size 0.1 and CLEARLY contain the condition that they are allowed to sell your personal data....
  • There's a simple response to Jigsaw: just spam the database with invalid entries. Go there and type in as many made-up entries as you can. Or, better yet, write a sript to do it for you with randomly-generated names. Make the data useless to them because it has so many incorrect entries. Granted, that would take a lot of entries, but an automated system could do it pretty easily.

    If they can break the "social contract" of keeping business card information semi-private, then we are perfectly within our ri
  • When I publish some text, like this comment you're reading, it's copyright protected by me automatically. You cannot copy it outside of the transaction in which you're receiving it, except for explicitly limited "fair use" exceptions (like storing it for retrieval by the same recipient), and of course any expressly permitted uses stated by me, the copyright holder.

    Personal info, including contact info, must be covered by the same kind of protection from copying. To legally protect the kind of discretion and
  • by TechAddress (1000788) on Friday September 08, 2006 @11:25AM (#16066522) Homepage
    Even though the company description of Jigsaw sounds nice and rewarding, other people have dramatically different opinions about what Jigsaw is doing.

    Read More: http://techaddress.wordpress.com/2006/09/08/is-jig saw-data-following-privacy-standards/ [wordpress.com]
  • I manage a 'sales' department for a HR agency, and this site is a recruiter's wet dream. Obviously this is no surprize, as such was the idea. I'm not sure if everyone knows (I imagine most people do) that its easy enough to get people's buisness contact info, even though most companies go through great lengths to hide the names of their employees from head hunters. The agency i work for, for example, has a databse of around 80k people. 80k is nothing compared to the ~4 million contacts already on that site
  • It's called networking people. This same practice has been going on since the dawn of sales. A group of people with a similar customer base get together and share information to reduce their workload.

    All over America, in Chambers of Commerce, Social Clubs and Grange Halls, people are gathering in the wee hours of the morning and trading your information. That's right folks, in PUBLIC! You thought your telcom guy was wonderful didn't you? Set up your whole office; you can even call your Shanghai office for

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