Magazine article American Banker

Let's Invent a Cyber Safe Deposit Box to Keep Personal Information Private

Magazine article American Banker

Let's Invent a Cyber Safe Deposit Box to Keep Personal Information Private

Article excerpt

Most Americans, whether liberal or conservative, are probably equally concerned about how information about them is used, who has access to it, and what decisions may turn upon it.

The chief executives of giant financial services firms are probably no more eager than the rest of us to have their private data generally available.

It's all very nice to hear assurances that Congress, whoever is in the White House, and those to whom we have intentionally or inadvertently revealed our secrets will protect them. But for most people, the cat is already out of the bag.

So much information about them has already been gathered and stored that sorting out who disclosed it, who gathered it, or who may be using it may be impossible. It would be like tracing layered transactions in a money laundering investigation.

When it comes to collecting new information about them, such as our shopping habits on the Internet, most people would prefer to be asked first. That's the easy part, and seems an obvious requirement.

After all, such information is valuable, and they might want to be compensated for it. Taking it without even saying so -- stealing it right off a PC's hard drive -- just doesn't seem right.

But what about the mountains of data already out there?

Here's my thought: a cyber safe deposit box.

Like a brick-and-mortar safe deposit box, you would need two keys to open it. The owner of the information would have one key and could authorize another party to use the matching key. Without the owner's consent, no one else could access the information. …

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