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An Epidemic of Snooping 163

Travoltus writes "Privacy advocates are frequently confronted with the rhetorical question, 'If you don't have anything to hide, you don't have a good reason to worry about losing your privacy, right?' This AP story uncovers a vast, distributed, decentralized epidemic of snooping into databases of personal information by workers at major utilities, the IRS, and other large organizations. In a number of cases these incidents have led to real harm. One striking example involves now ex-Mayor of Milwaukee Marvin Pratt, who had a pattern of being late paying his heating bills. This fact was leaked to the media by a utility worker and may have led to Pratt's losing a bid for re-election. As one can imagine, the harm becomes much greater when this same snooping is done by Government officials to deal with political enemies, or by corporations to uncover whistleblowers."

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