Is protecting your personal data a lost cause?

Scott McNealy, former CEO of Sun Microsystems, said in 1999, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”  Privacy advocates around the U.S. fought off the notion as an off-the-wall statement that couldn’t be backed up.  Well, I am here to tell you that McNealy was right and the situation has gotten only worse over the years.  I was a junk mail data broker that sold your name and personal information to companies who used it to target you in their mailings.
Not that I agreed that McNealy’s premise should be accepted, although he was right at the time, rather that the heisting of this private data was wrong and should be regulated in an out-of-control industry.  I got religion.  Sellers of lists have basically no concern over how much of your personal information they sell.  Why should they?  It is a $4 billion+ business that repeats itself every year adding any new secrets about you that you make freely available to them.
If you are wondering now if there is any way you can protect your privacy, the answer is yes, but it isn’t without some effort.  I’ll tell you all about this later.
What brought this all up was a recent report that citizens data is still being improperly collected about innocent Americans and shared throughout government agencies, a multi-billion dollar information sharing program that started after 9/11 to help fight terrorism.  The Associated Press report is more concerned with misspent dollars on the terror watch program than the public’s privacy, quoting as follows:
The Dept. of Homeland Security “set up so-called fusion centers in every state. Government estimates range from less than $300 million to $1.4 billion in federal money, plus much more invested by state and local governments.”  The authors say that much of this money was spent for “local crimefighting.”
Aside from the fact that taxpayer dollars are being wasted, it just means that tons more of your private data is being disbursed around the country, most likely around the world, that could easily fall in the wrong hands.  “A Senate Homeland Security subcommittee reviewed 600 unclassified reports over a one-year period and concluded that most had nothing to do with terrorism.”  No terrorist threats were uncovered by these local fusion centers.  Imagine that.
Well, you do have an option.  You can subscribe to Grant Hall’s privacy method that will make you literally invisible when it comes to your personal data.  I know Grant, and never have I seen a more sincere person in what he believes and writes about.  Right now, today, this man is John Doe, Citizen A, protected by layers of privacy that guarantee that his complete confidentiality is secure.  Whether or not you complete the course, his two books are fascinating reading.
Here’s a quote from one of Grant’s recent promotions:
“Advantages of anonymous living include freedom from unexpected visits and calls from aggressive salespeople, troublesome private investigators, dangerous stalkers, and others who may want to case your home, rob you of property, or make life miserable for you and your family. Keeping the debt on your home a secret is impossible when a traditional home mortgage is used as all who pay a nominal fee may be able to tap into your credit report, discover your home address and easily make their way to your door. “
His latest book is Privacy Crisis Banking and his flagship book is Privacy Crisis, each of which addresses different approaches to fully protecting your privacy using methods proven by the author himself.  By the way, I consider myself a friend of Grant Hall and I have no idea where he lives nor do I have a telephone number.  When we talk, he either emails or calls me and that’s fine with me.

In closing, Stephen Manes in his Full Disclosure column commented on Scott McNealy’s statement, “He’s right on the facts, wrong on the attitude. … Instead of ‘getting over it’, citizens need to demand clear rules on privacy, security, and confidentiality.”  I agree and I am sure Grant Hall would also agree.

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