1994-08-21 - Creating privacy crises: Society hacking

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From: FLOATING OUTWARD <entropy@IntNet.net>
To: “L. Todd Masco” <cactus@bb.com>
Message Hash: 2c23cbc5735b5a1e5ab92446282bb36da387f6ae7f9b36b71601e45ab5fbb414
Message ID: <Pine.3.89.9408211934.A21716-0100000@xcalibur>
Reply To: <338o15$c98@bb.com>
UTC Datetime: 1994-08-21 23:40:25 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 21 Aug 94 16:40:25 PDT

Raw message

From: FLOATING OUTWARD <entropy@IntNet.net>
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 94 16:40:25 PDT
To: "L. Todd Masco" <cactus@bb.com>
Subject: Creating privacy crises: Society hacking
In-Reply-To: <338o15$c98@bb.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.89.9408211934.A21716-0100000@xcalibur>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

> In the composition of my last message, I was thinking in the back of
>  my mind about how we could foment an information privacy crisis.  This
>  could very well be a Good Thing, a societal hack to serve as a wake-
>  up call.

    Extremely.  Speaking as someone who derives particular joy from 
culture jamming in all of its forms, it sounds like a great thing to do 
if it is done appropriately.

> At the HOPE conference, there was someone selling CD-ROMs of the DMV
>  records for Oregon for $125.  The same folks promise to add more states
>  soon: next in line is Texas.

    It's a good idea; especially since the information is public record 
an is available from the state government on tape for a reasonable fee.  
Unfortunately, from what I've heard from people who actually have the 
database (for Florida), it works out to be several gigabytes of data, 
which is unfortunately too large to fit on a CD-ROM unless severely 
> Perhaps one could generate a privacy crisis by collecting that information
>  and conducting a mass mailing to every person in the database: "we have
>  this information on you.  So could anybody with $125.  Call your congress
>  critter and complain."

    Perhaps - but it is extremely likely that the local government would 
take a rather dim view of it.  The DMV record data is probably restricted 
by some clause or other to non-marketing purposes.  Before trying 
something like that I would suggest speaking to a lawyer or being willing 
to have large legal problems.

> Some people don't consider their DMV records critical -- so perhaps a
>  mailing from a company of their credit history would open their eyes
>  (More effort than the $125 + postage, but probably a better yield).

    This would definately get you thrown in jail and your CBI account 
killed.  It's a violation of CBI's use agreement and also against the 
fair credit reporting act.
> It's just a thought and it would require some amount of time & money,
>  but it's a doable hack with finite resources.

    I think there's a happy medium where you can shake people up without 
going to jail in the process.  :)

> Thoughts?  Is this totally off the wall, or do y'all think that somebody
>  with a small but not tiny amount of money would be into doing this?

    Yes.  It's doable, but once again, I would seriously suggest a 
different approach.

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