by TV Smith
your mother teach you never to ask a stranger how much he earns or a lady her
When I wrote that much plagiarised
piece on our much-touted MyKad (The Naked Card)
in 2003, I was trying to emphasise the potential abuse of shared data. In 2005,
data theft is already a real problem. The Star recently highlighted cases where
unscrupulous employees of financial institutions and telcos routinely sell personal
data to third parties. By right, such sellers and buyers should be lying behind
bars. Instead; a proposed Personal Data Protection Act is left lying
in a drawer since 2001.
Why is there so much data for the taking, in the
first place? I can understand if one is applying for a credit card, but many simple
transactions now require you to surrender more personal information than when
applying for a CEO's job or a housing loan. Fortunately, as consumers, you and
I have every right to reject such products or services. Only by doing so, will
we send a clear message to arrogant executives that our best safeguard is to avoid
prying companies altogether.
Many companies conveniently cite the fact
that the information is required to help them improve their services and to profile
their customers. In most cases, it is for churning out demographics to
impress their advertisers and investors. Ironically, the statistics derived are
often inaccurate as people habitually disclose false or wrong info. Dinesh Nair,
for example, told me he would almost always write "Dog" under 'Race'
(in a paper form) just to screw up the system and as a sign of protest.
data mining is an unnecessary evil that deters many prospective clients. Of course,
many bosses are also unaware that with looming legislation; they may be saddled
with a minefield if the data is not properly managed or is misused by an employee.
Meanwhile, there is little movitation to secure your data against unauthorised
access or loss. There is also no obligation not to process the data in any manner
incompatible with the purpose for which it was given. Where a 'Privacy Statement'
is available, there is often another clever disclaimer around it.
if an organisation holds your information for the purposes of direct marketing,
you have little recourse to have your details removed from their database. But
then again, since you didn't even whimper when they affixed your date of birth
to your IC number, would any government now even think about your privacy?
many countries, companies would not even dare dream of requesting the type of
personal data routinely demanded here. Snoopy salesmen will find little favour
with customers who are fiercely protective of their fundamental right to privacy.
As a result, any required information is kept minimal and additional information
Malaysia, however, seems to be heading in the opposite
direction. To sign up for a basic service, you need to cough up more information
than that required of a passport application. Fixated on data collection, many
web marketeers seem to have forgotten a golden rule: Make the purchasing process
as easy as possible.
Below are sample screenshots of online application/registration
forms I encountered in just one night. Almost all the fields in the forms must
be completed before I can listen to a streaming radio station, buy a debit card
or obtain wifi access. I have included a credit card application for comparison.
See if you can figure which one is the bank...
also: THE NAKED CARD
2005 TV SMITH
Link to this article: http://www.tvsmith.net.my/duasen/230805_privacy.html