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Data Privacy

Personal data privacy and security is one of the day's hot topics.  However, this concern was raised before the term "data mining" was coined.  A good example is given in the book Data Processing: An Introduction by Donald D. Spencer, written in 1978 (just because a computer book is old, does not mean it is no longer applicable).  Excerpts are included below of a hypothetical Daily Information Sheet for a hypothetical person set in the near future.

It is not exceptionaly difficult to obtain someone's social security number, purchases, phone records, etc., from various sources on the Web or other accessible databases and compile the data; with it, one could generate a Daily Information Sheet of a person's daily activities.  The technology is easily available now.  It was reported in the April 7, 2006 issue of Good Morning Silicon Valley that AT&T has been turning over caller information to the National Security Agency.  Plus, remember it being reported on the Internet of companies obtaining and selling data consisting of phone numbers called from a particular phone number?  With a few security loopholes, one's life becomes an open book.  Throw in some Artificial Intelligence, and deductions can be made from a person's activities.

Confidential
Daily Information Sheet
National Data Bank
August 22, 2020

Subject Robert Shirley Smith
11036 Copley Street
Orlando Florida
Age: 41
Married
Children: John, Age 19; Nancy, Age 14; William, Age 12; Jack, Age 6
Profession: Plumber
Purchases Breakfast 8.10
  Gasoline 25.10
  Newspaper .50
  Phone (867-2301) .50
  Phone (672-4467) .50
  Phone (772-3461) .50
  Phone (667-8841) .50
  Bank (Cash Withdrawal) 190.00
  Lunch 36.20
  Cocktails 26.10
  Phone (772-3461) .50
  Lingerie 65.70
  Champagne 25.20
  Newspaper .50

****Computer Analysis****

Large Breakfast.  Usually has only coffee.  Bought 25.10 dollars gasoline.  Owns economy car.  So far this week he has bought 74.50 dollars worth of gas.  Bought gasoline in Sanford, Florida which is 32 miles from home and 37 miles from work.  Bought gasoline at 7:48.  Safe to assume he was late for work.
Bought newspaper.  He always reads the newspaper when he gets to work.
Phone number 867-2301 belongs to expensive men's barber - specializes in hair styling and bald men.
Phone number 672-4467 belongs to boss's wife.
Phone number 772-3461 belongs to old girl friend named Lulu Rocket.
Phone number 667-8841 belongs to Atlas Travel Agency.  Made reservations for Miami - single.  Fourth trip this year to Miami without wife.  Will check file to see if anyone else has gone to Miami at the same time and compare to his phone number calls.
Withdrew 190 dollars cash.  Very unusual since he usually uses his National Data credit card for all purchases and tickets.  Cash usually used only for underground economy.
Lunch bill seems unusually high.  Wife did not eat with him.  Drinks during his lunch.  This may be possible cause of his poor productivity during afternoon work days.
Phone number 772-3461 belongs to Lulu Rocket.  Second call today to this number.
Bought very expensive lingerie at exclusive woman's store.  Not his wife's size
Bought bottle expensive champagne.  He usually buys bourbon or rum.  Must be special occasion.
Left work at 4:10.  Purchased champagne at liquor store 2 miles from work at 4:25.
Bought newspaper at 7:25 near his house.
Unaccountable 3 hours.
 


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The Daily Information Sheet comes from Data Processing: An Introduction by Donald D. Spencer (1978), Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, pp. 361 - 362.  Modified to reflect current prices and trends.

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