Private spies are worse than NSA

Published 2:03 pm Wednesday, March 26, 2014

By Will Sullivan

Guest Columnist 

Sunday night, 60 Minutes proved what I have been saying for years to anyone who would listen, though most just said, “So what?”

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I’m talking about the part of the program where they discussed “data gathering” – in my opinion, computer hacking — firms that know more about you than you know yourself.

One self-righteous business executive said he and his fellow “data gatherers” are important to the economy, so important that the economy would suffer greatly if Congress tried to regulate them.

Horsefeathers, for want of a better word that can be published in a family publication. The economy got along just fine before hacking firms started burrowing into your computers and smart phones to gather every bit of information they could about you that they sell to others for their purposes.

You can be certain of one thing. The information will be used to target you for any number of purposes.

Do you really enjoy being the bulls-eye for all those who want to take a shot at you?

I don’t. I think these people are criminals, but ones so wealthy and so influential that no one will call them what they are.

Do you really think that these “legal” hackers don’t have your Social Security number, your credit card numbers and your bank account numbers? How do you think they know what you purchase, how much you paid for it and so forth?

They can use those numbers for any purpose they wish. So far, none appears to have used the numbers for any overtly criminal purpose, but who’s to say they won’t?

Also, is using your numbers for purposes over which you have no say, much less any control, really any better?

They are stealing your name and your information to make money and you aren’t getting a penny of it.

It’s probably costing you money in ways you don’t even know.

By helping sellers target you with ways in which you are vulnerable, you are probably spending money you otherwise wouldn’t spend, putting charges on your credit card you probably wouldn’t have made had you not been stripped of your defenses and left open to those who would violate your weaknesses. In what way is it fair for someone or some company to take advantage of you?

These thieves will say that you have a choice on whether to spend the money or make the charge.

If that is true, then why do they steal your information and sell it to others so they can take advantage of you?

Congress is holding hearings on this now, but don’t expect any help there.

These rich, powerful companies have lobbyists to protect them and their interests. You, the private citizen, have no one, not even the people you helped put in office, to protect your interests because you are not uber-wealthy, powerful or influential.

You have only your vote and these hackers can help these politicians find ways to get you to vote for them. You are only a bulls-eye on a target.