Thursday, 22 October 2015

We all want to pretend this doesn’t happen

Image result for la la la im not listeningAnother reason you have something to fear even if you think you have nothing to hide.  The BBC reports on the online drug seller Pharmacy2U, which has been fined for selling customer details to marketing companies.

Pharmacy2U had made a "serious error of judgement" in selling the data, the information commissioner said.

The pharmacy said the sales had been a "regrettable incident", for which it apologised.

I’m sure that will comfort their 200,000+ victims.  They sold the data quite cheaply, too: £130 per 1,000 customers.  Although they did sell it to ‘several’ companies, so there were decent sums of money involved.

ICO deputy commissioner David Smith said it was likely some customers had suffered financially - one buyer of the data deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable people.

And there’s the point.  Names and addresses are one thing, but the names and addresses of people who are likely to be vulnerable are quite another.  Once that data is out there, it will be sold on to other companies.  And in the likely event that these companies have other data about the people on the list, there’s a chance they can isolate our vulnerabilities further.  So we have plenty to fear even if we really do have nothing to hide.  Which we do.

Mr Smith said: "Patient confidentiality is drummed into pharmacists.

"It is inconceivable that a business in this sector could believe these actions were acceptable.

Agreed.

We all want to pretend this doesn’t happen all the time or that it doesn’t matter or that the cat is already too far out of the bag to stuff it back in.  None of those things are true.

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