Congress Learns How Little Privacy We Have
Almost every piece of personal information that Americans try to keep secret—including bank account statements, e-mail messages and telephone records—is semi-public and available for sale.
That was the lesson Congress learned over the last week during a series of hearings aimed at exposing peddlers of personal data, from whom banks, car dealers, jealous lovers and even some law enforcement officers have covertly purchased information to use as they wish.
The committee subpoenaed representatives from 11 companies that use the Internet and phone calls to obtain, market, and sell personal data, but they refused to talk.
All invoked their constitutional right to not incriminate themselves when asked whether they sold “personal, non-public information” that had been obtained by lying or impersonating someone.
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