When it comes to the right to privacy, most people I talk to just don’t get it. They do not understand it, do not know why it is needed, and do not seem to care much about it. I am not sure whether it is because they are ill-informed, or whether they genuinely do not care what information is known about them. As governments get more tracking tools, cell phone records, biometric data et cetera, it seems that the only people who care about this issue are either clinically paranoid – or accused of being paranoid. Most people just assume their information is safely secured and since they are not ‘bad people’ they have nothing to worry about.
I contend that it is not just ‘Big Brother’ we need to worry about – it’s the sheer unadulterated incompetence of people trusted with our information that really worries me. I have previously wrote about the Israeli Screen Actors Guild revealing private information about its members, like phone numbers, home addresses and social security numbers. A year has passed and nothing was done to rectify the situation.
At the risk of coming off as a stalker, I thought I may be able to promote the subject by publishing from time to time a case study of sorts and although I will redact any information that can uniquely identify the test subject, I hope that by just seeing what kind of information is out there, I would be able to knock some sense into people with regards to their own privacy and digital footprints.
Case Study #1: Ruediger K.
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A tourist from Germany felt remorseful about taking a stone from a holy site in Israel, and sent it back in a parcel addressed to Israel’s Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, along with a letter explaining the situation and $200 for the trouble. The Parks Authority, for reasons beyond my understanding, contacted Maariv, Israel’s 2nd largest newspaper, who printed this story today, accompanied by a scanned image of the original letter. The image, albeit small, is clear enough to be read by anyone who cares to do so – turning this person’s private confession about stealing to public knowledge.
Full name: Ruediger [redacted]
Home address: [redacted], Unterföhring, Germany
Email address: [redacted]@t-online.de
Sample of signature: [redacted]
Information deduced using Google:
Information deduced using Facebook:
Current location: Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA
Family member: Rainer [redacted]