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01/26/2004 Archived Entry: "And speaking of privacy ..."

AND SPEAKING OF PRIVACY ... Cendant, the giant corporation nobody ever heard of -- the one that got blogged here last month for its participation in CAPPS II, is at it again. This time, according to the Washington Times, they're building a huge database for their own use that will put more than 200 databits about you at its disposal. (Actually, according to Don't Spy on US, they've been at it for quite a while.)

Remember: If you stay in hotels, make airline reservations, or rent cars, you're giving Cendant everything from your credit card number to your home address and your spending habits. And they're using the info you give them to purchase even more info on you from the big databasing companies.

A Cendant spokesperson makes pious noises about how they'd never disclose the data inappropriately. Right. Even if they actually meant that, just think about how the fedgov has recently redefined virtually every company you exchange money with as a "financial institution" -- subject to warrantless, subpoenaless searches of your records. Just think how virtually every corporation hands over customer records to the government without court orders, even without that quaint redefinition.

Even if you don't travel, or only make road trips and stay at mom-and-pop motels, you ought to read that Washington Times article on Cendant. It gives an idea just how far the privacy invasion has already gone. (For instance, remember how, a year ago, grocery stores were poo poohing the idea of "loyalty card" data ever being used against you? According to this article, insurance companies are already using shopping card data to deny coverage to people who buy cigarettes, "too much" liquor, or -- get this -- red meat.)

(Thanks to Katherine Albrecht for another day brightening article.)

Posted by Claire @ 09:50 AM CST

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