When we fill out government forms we assume that, that information is between us and the government, but it rarely is. Most of that information is available through the Freedom of Information Act, just as the tax rolls at the County tax assessor’s office are available for all to see, along with one’s marriage licenses, and other county information. The state also collects information, and someone can get your birth certificate as well. Your tax forms are also available.
When you give money to a certain candidate for their election campaign, that money is recorded and that information is available, online even simply by looking up someone’s name. If you get any licenses, permits, security clearances, or if you are in the military, there is information on you which is available to the public. Then there is information which you don’t want available to the public, and the government says that it keeps in private, such as personal information.
But what happens when the government’s websites get hacked, and that data gets collected, and disseminated, and then given out in public in bulk by a hacking group? That is a scary thought, but unfortunately all too common. Now then, that can cause you harm and damage, but the government that collects this information in good faith, merely only has to advise you that the information has been stolen from their databases and is now out in the public.
In other words once they alert you that your data has been stolen, they wash their hands, and say; “it’s not our fault we were hacked, and we thought you’d like to know.” That’s unfortunate because we trust our government with our information, and yet it appears they can’t be trusted, not because they are dishonest about it, but because they are either incompetent, or the computer systems are not strong enough or robust enough to fend off minor hacking attacks.
There was a rather troubling piece recently in the Homeland Security News Online titled; “EU lawyers say U.S. – EU plans air passenger database illegal” which was published on June 23, 2011, which stated;
“A British newspaper has obtained a confidential government document that reveals a legal opinion stating that the U.S.-EU air passenger database plan is “not compatible with fundamental rights”; DHS and European officials had reached an agreement to share the personal information of passengers including credit card numbers, travel plans, birth dates, and addresses.”
Now then, if the government is collecting information about you and your travels, that violate your privacy, and yet, they are doing it to protect “all airline passengers” that is a different issue. Now there’s a new problem, all that information could be available out in the public due to hackers. And thus they would have all the information they needed to steal all of your money while you are on vacation.
That’s a scary thought, and if we can’t trust the government with the information, then we shouldn’t allow them to collect it perhaps, until they get safer computer systems. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this, and the future ramifications of hackers in the information age.