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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Selling of databases

I can't remember if I wrote about the EPIC West (Electronic Privacy Information Center West Coast Office) Blog, before, or not. I've been reading it since about October. It is quite interesting. And illuminating.

For instance, I found these two recent items to be a little alarming:

One, Kwik Lube is selling a database of their customers' information. The alarming thing about this is the question raised by EPIC West:

I'd be interested in knowing whether Kwik Lube also collects VINs and license plate numbers from their customers. By doing so, they could quickly amass a significant database that could be sold to police, investigators, and the general public while skirting the Drivers Privacy Protection Act.

I don't know about the VIN, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do record the license plate. I don't go to Kwik Lube. I don't even know if there is one in Springfield. But, of the lube shops I have gone to, the first thing they do when you drive in, is enter the license plate in the computer to see when they last serviced the car. So, even if you don't use a credit card, your information is out there.

Two, Office Depot Sells Your Data. The alarming thing about this, as the article points out, according to Office Depot's privacy policy:

[...] the company "partners" with "trusted third parties." But its placement in DMNews is the equivalent of a classified newspaper advertisement. Anyone could buy this list, trusted or not.

Obviously, they get your information when you use a credit card to buy. So, people walking in the store and paying cash shouldn't have anything to worry about. Or, do they?

Posted by Marie at January 19, 2006 11:55 PM