Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Losing One's Good Name

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Losing One's Good Name

Article excerpt

Some years ago, when the protagonist in The Net discovered that she no longer o[double dagger]cially existed, many movie-goers probably doubted that a hacker could realistically extirpate all files relating to a person. Analogously, even today, many otherwise perceptive people pay very little attention to the protection of personal and financial information relating to their lives, believing, erroneously, that it is di[double dagger]cult to actually steal an identity and that even if this type of thing happens, it occurs so infrequently that one may dismiss it as an insignificant aberration, despite the ten million annual thefts and the $48 billion loss that businesses incur. Thus, people include their social security number on their checks; they use credit cards for virtually every purchase; they leave data-rich receipts scattered in their wake-on restaurant tables, in cash machines, at gas pumps, in garbage receptacles; they fail to fully destroy credit card solicitations and bank statements containing names and numbers; they toss out unopened letters and other mail at the post o[double dagger]ce; they o∂er credit card numbers to anyone who requests them, often for some insignificant lagniappe, both in person and via the Internet; and they cooperate when educational institutions, bankers, brokers, contract employees, and even sales people demand their social security number. …

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