Worst Privacy Debacles of All Time

by Devanshu Mehta

“Wired”:http://www.wired.com/news/politics/privacy/0,71622-0.html has put up a list of the worst privacy debacles in the United States of all time. Of course, since this article was prompted by the “AOL debacle”:http://www.scienceaddiction.com/2006/08/18/take-action-aol-privacy-and-the-database-of-intentions/ that incident in particular has not made the list. I wonder if it would have made the list, and if so, at what position. I would rank it pretty high on importance on principle but low on potential damage to individuals.

This list is pretty good, and the #1 position is my favorite:

*1. The creation of the Social Security Number:*
Although security blogger Adam Shostack is known for his expertise on information-age data leaks, he considers the creation of the Social Security Number in 1936 to be the “largest privacy disaster in the history of the U.S.” Referencing controversy over the card’s creation at the time, he said, “Ironically, privacy advocates warned that the number would become a de facto national ID, and their concerns were belittled, then proven right, setting a pattern that still goes on today.”