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.

Tags: , ,

  • Theoretical psychology in Tokyo
  • Under fire SADC media must build alliances with citizens
  • ID blocking: A growing threat to nationality