Scott McNealy gets a clue
Scott McNealy, boss of mega-corporation Sun Microsystems and onetime nemesis of Bill Gates and Microsoft is well-renowned for having said "You have no privacy! Get over it!" This seemed not to bother him or his company very much until recently when he made an amazing about face on the issue.
So what brought on this sudden epiphany? It seems his own personal data, including his social security number, etc. were lost by a contractor of a firm with which he does business as a private individual. It's amazing the clarity one can achieve when foisted into the metaphorical other person's shoes. All of the sudden privacy is highly important. Hmmmm....
With Choicepoint, several State DMVs, Ernst and Young, Bank of America reporting data breaches the carelessness of big corporations with our data is approaching chronic levels. Sadly, a recent court ruling in Minnesota has given a (temporary) green light for organizations to be sloppy with our data. Basically as long as they say the right things. then, under the law as it stands (in the USA), organizations can do what they want. In the Minnesota case it was a matter of "Well, no one else encrypts this stuff so why should we?" Shameful but the backlash has already begun.
As a small business we can gain a lot from this. Whilst the huge dinosaurs trample and trounce on our expectations of data privacy, we can offer customers what they want: confidentiality and taking (actually quite easy) measures to see that their data is safe.
Meanwhile, until organizations are all up to speed on what we expect of them we're shredding every bit of paper with so much as our name on it before it goes in the recycling bin. Our e-mails are not on any websites that we know of (and God help the webmaster who makes them public!) and Social Security numbers, PINs, etc. are guarded jealously and only given out for a very good reason.
The backlash can only help business get its act together but they'll only do this when enough of us demand it. Until then let's take advantage of them!