Saturday, August 8, 2015

Privacy


For the last several employers that have been kind enough to employ me, I was required to sign privacy agreements.

I agreed not to share information that belonged to the company to the public and/or any competitors.

It wasn't a problem for me to sign these agreements. The company owns that information, and I am happy to keep my lips sealed for the benefit of the company, even after a time when I don't work for them anymore.

In exchange, companies are required to keep my personal information safe.

In a day and age where identities are stolen and abused on a daily basis, the thought that a company would freely release my information over the phone, or even in writing, is frightening.

The first start to stealing really great information about a person, is by getting their name and their birthday.

While the social security number always makes life easy for a thief, three previous addresses along with the birthday and the name, gives any hacker an easy start to finding anything that they need to know about you.

Then find three previous jobs where you have worked.

So say that this person has your birthday and your name and a few previous addresses, and he or she casually calls up a former employer, either pretending to be you, or pretending to be a close friend or relative. And after several minutes of chatting, they have more and more information.

And this is the beginning of how you lose your identity to another.

Trust is overrated sometimes. We don't always make the right choices.

Not even in employers...

But sometimes, even the laws of the government can't protect us from the stupidity and wickedness of recent developments in corporations.

The first betrayal I felt against the company I worked for was a broadcast among the employees that we were celebrating my birthday.

To me, this was a breech from the deepest bowls of the company, and it was my information that I placed on my application for employment.

By releasing my information, they invalidated my trust.

The next breach of trust came about with something most employees call "The Walls of Shame." This is where the performance of the employees is put on ready display for all those that care to see it.

So say for instance that I have a friend that owns a business, and a coworker applies for a job with that person.

Said friend comes to me and asks me what I think of my coworker.

Of course I have my own opinions about whether I like that coworker or not, but I also might have something readily available, if I look up, and there is a "Wall of Shame", I can easily report these statistics back to my friend.

Information released.

Confidentiality is breached all because the information was on there for all to see, whether it was on a board or a mass email for all to see.

Companies do this to create a competitive environment, but instead breed a lack of trust from within that makes people want to leave their jobs.

Companies have always encouraged competitive environments: Who can make the most sales? Who can solve the most problems? Who can be the most productive? And so on...

And that's fine. People from the US are probably the most competitive in the world. We always want to be winners.

But times have changed from putting the employee of the month picture up on the wall to putting everyone's stats on the wall and pointing out our flaws.

There is no win to this situation.

This is about corporate greed and running the underdog down.

But in the process of doing this, the corporation is revealing personal information that can put a person at risk from ever leaving, and for personal identity theft.

When social security numbers/cards came out, the government said that these numbers were NOT to be used as a form of identity.

Now, the number is all we are.

When you start your job, you are given a badge with a number that references your social security number in a specific data base.

So let's pull out your employee badge: It either has a magnetic strip with a number encoded on it, or an actual number on the badge. When you scan that badge, it references to an employee data base that tags you as being in the building. This leads to a time clock data base that references your hours worked to your pay. And from there, a short jump, usually to ADP, or some other cloud-based payroll management system.

As the group Anonymous has shown us over and over again, there are plenty of backdoors that lead to all of our information out for display. All it takes is one person, with enough hacking experience, to knock on the right door and steal your identity.

There are also plenty of "credit-check" companies that can let the right person with the right information garner everything they need to change their name to your name, with your ID, and steal your credit.

This is about being a number.

Recently, a friend went online to apply for a job and called me up. They wanted her to input her social security number on the very first page of her application.

I told her not to apply for the job.

Until you get a job, you should NOT give out your social security number. The company has no right to ask for it until they agree that you will be getting regular paychecks from them and they need to have that reference number for tax purpose.

As a society, we need to start protesting our information being thrown out there on a whim by the corporate bureaucratic machine.

We need to become more private, and less trusting.

And in reality, I am not just talking about our numbers.

I don't let people take my picture without my permission.

I think these stupid kids out there, letting their boyfriends/girlfriends snap quick nudies for the fun of it is sheer idiocy.

Letting someone "tag" you on Facebook is the next step to someone cloning you on another profile.

Parents tossing their kids photos and stories online, is a temptation for any pedophile and freak show out there. Especially with the number of kidnappings and stalkings occurring today.
We need to become more private and circumspect, and we need to expect companies and friends to honor that privacy.

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