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Proposed Privacy Protector Loses Laptops

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[ Technology]

The Federal Trade Commission has been touted by a group of high-tech and other industry powers as the best choice to enforce any federal privacy laws that pass, but the agency has a little problem safeguarding its data too.

Let’s review some basic knowledge as it pertains to the Federal Trade Commission’s loss of a pair of laptops containing personally identifiable information.

Laptops are valuable.

Locked cars can be broken into quite easily by a determined thief.

Someone or some persons left two FTC laptops in a locked car, unattended.

Now the FTC has to notify about 110 people that, oops, their personal information is in the hands of some unknown person. Here’s the list of the choice pickings available to the opportunistic criminal that were on the laptop:

The personal information was gathered in law enforcement investigations and included, variously, names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and in some instances, financial account numbers.


The FTC said the laptops were password protected, and the personal information was just a small part of the thousands of files contained in one laptop. Some of the people exposed in the theft include defendants in past and current FTC cases too.

On June 20th, several technology firms asked Congress to pass a federal privacy law to help protect consumers from identity theft. The Consumer Privacy Legislation Forum called for the FTC to enforce this legislation.

Perhaps the Forum should make an additional request of Congress, that enforcers of a privacy law agree to keep laptops under their personal control at all times. Numerically the FTC loss is nowhere near the exposures of personal information in the cases of the Veterans Administration and the USDA, but any loss is still a loss.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Proposed Privacy Protector Loses Laptops
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