I Lagardien
I Lagardien

Too Much Information: Where does it all go?

In an age where identity theft is rife, it is increasingly difficult to reconcile the fact that almost everywhere you go in the country, one is expected to provide detailed and quite crucial information about yourself.

Moving between the National Library and a university library, over several weeks recently, I had to provide my identity number, phone number and residential address every time I entered the institution. More recently, at a conference venue I had to provide my identity number (it seems like one is always expected to provide this), car registration number — including the make — whom my employers were and explain the purpose of my visit. When shopping, I usually pay with a debit card, for which I have to provide a pin number, but I am also asked to sign a little receipt, presumably for the shop’s records.

This information — our ID numbers, physical addresses, dates of birth, car registration numbers and signatures — goes into a “system” of public and private security, and it is difficult to see, or know for sure, what happens to it once it leaves the reception or security desk. It is also difficult to know, for sure, who has access to this information.

Identity theft, thrives, it would seem to me, on the illegal acquisition and use of our personal information. Given the high levels of distrust among the population, and crime, in general, this surrender of persona details may be considered as part of the private and publically provided security apparatus that keeps us safe. Could it not be said, actually, that by sharing our personal information as frequently as we are expected to, that we’re feeding the beast, as it were, that is (precisely), responsible for our vulnerability in the first place. Surely we can come up with innovative thinking about information sharing/protection that makes one feel less vulnerable.

Large international organisations and some corporations tend to keep the phone numbers of their staff out of the public domain, to prevent sales people or lobbyists from reaching them. It seems to me that, in South Africa at least, we somehow (ironically) hand over our personal details too readily in order to feel/be safer.

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    • Benzo

      The amount of times one has to give an ID number and in the following line has to write ones birthdate is annoying.
      In many EU countries, the national ID numbers may not -by law- contain and give away personal details.
      The SA ID -over and above birthdate- used to give away gender, race and citizenship. The FICA story is another one of those duplicating regular personal info supply mechanisms.
      Filling the forms/books when entering company premises more looking like job creation than helping serious security.

    • Jean Wright

      I get fed up when having entered my (personal & secret) PIN I’m then asked to sign as well. Used to object, but now give in. Thought it was probably because the Assistant/Whoever was untrained and was not expected to check the card properly. But in that case, would the signature matter anyway. Still irritated by it.

    • Policat

      Don’t worry you won’t have to give out those labourious details much longer. Big brother is going to barcode us and all you will have to do is to just flash your forward an zap, they will have all the info. Or something more sinsister the inside of your arm.
      As for ID theft. The government and big corporates have done that long ago. The others are just opportunists trying to muscle in on the action.

    • MLH

      FICA is an insult to intelligence; the banks don’t even keep the info they collect.

    • The Praetor

      And then you wonder where those telesales people get your info from, or where the how the spam mailers get to you…

      The Praetor

    • Nguni

      Agree, too much info is required from the public in SA. It’s one of the first things one notices when returning after a long period overseas. And yes, requiring the ID number plus the birthdate is just ridiculous. You can’t help thinking ‘which idiot designed this form?’ Some even want your age as well! Guess it has to do with helping those with poor math skills..

    • http://www.cindynel.co.za peter nel

      All your information and that of all the rest of us is probably either already in the Utah Data Centre or on its way there shortly. Refer project Stellar Wind where everything you do is under constant scrutiny and surveillance. Welcome to the seventh stage. Just two to go. Have a nice day and good luck.

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