BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : APRIL 5, 1999 ISSUE
SPECIAL REPORT

The Price of Privacy: Your Money


Somewhere, a network has more personal data about you than you probably ever imagined. Some of those are valuable data about yourself that you have given away. Some are data you thought were confidential but are now public. They might have been sold, auctioned off in a bankruptcy, or subpoenaed in a legal proceeding. New technologies and laws may soon give you the ability to put a crimp on the collecting or to get something in return for your personal data. Here are some of the risks, remedies, and trade-offs:

RISK
You think your financial records are private. Then your bank merges with a securities firm and its online arm blitzes you with dubious investment offers.

REMEDY
A bill co-sponsored by Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) would prohibit companies from sharing your personal data with a third party or affiliate unless you give approval.

TRADE-OFF
You should always have the right to say no to data sharing, but some of the sales pitches are things you might want to see.

THE POLITICIAN
''Privacy laws cover video rentals and cable-TV selections, yet we don't protect citizens' basic financial information from being shared,'' says Senator Paul Sarbanes.



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