Wednesday, March 9, 2005

More Personal Content Theft: Reed Elsevier's Seisint Unit Takes a Hit

Reuters reports along with other majors on the recent theft of about 32,000 names from its Seisint division's collection of data from government agencies and other sources. One misappropriated ID and password and boom, major exposure. Combined with recent shady purchases from ChoicePoint and other events a pattern of global exposure is evolving rapidly, calling in to question many fundamental aspects of how personal content is managed by database publishers. There's gold in personal content but there's also an enormous amount of responsibility that goes along with it, in these instances pointing to the need to examine clients' motivations very carefully. We've been hearing an awful lot about the need to control terrorism as of late, but there is no doubt that one of the most devastating forms of terrorism is identify theft. The personal content industry can be more self-regulating in some of these issues and the rapid prosecution of the Nigerian theives responsible for the misuse of ChoicePoint's data holds out promise that our current legal framework may be able to keep up with these crimes. But nevertheless the stewardship of personal information is entering the international court of public opinion, with international standards for both vendors and law enforcers likely to emerge in the years ahead. U.S.-based suppliers should be ready to consider that their standards for ethical use need to rise several notches if they are to survive as a relatively unregulated industry serving global markets.
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