[EDITORIALS]Data nearly equal to cashWe have an incredible report that an employee of a credit-card company sold personal data on hundreds of card holders. What is truly alarming is that the information was traded online, out in the open. This is an ethical lapse by an employee, not a systematic failure in the security network, but the credit-card company should not escape responsibility for mishandling customer information that is nearly equivalent to cash.
This is one in a series of financial frauds, including fabrication of automated teller machine cards at the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation and online hacking that stole personal information from financial firms. Taken together, they show that mishandling of private information has reached a dangerous level. The National Police Agency received more than 5,100 complaints about breaches of personal information during the first three months of the year, a 65 percent increase over the same period last year.
As credit card use expands and online banking catches on, the importance of safeguarding personal information and system security is all the greater. A consumer’s personal credit information can be quickly translated to cash. It is as good as money when there is a cardholder’s name, card number and password. The easy availability of this type of information is a serious social problem and an obstacle to our society becoming a truly credit-based one. With such lapses in credit and personal information management, how can financial institutions be trusted?
Recognition of the importance of safeguarding personal information has not mat-ched the rate of expanding Internet use and regulatory measures are few. Financial institutions must understand that safeguarding customer information is a matter of survival for their businesses. Internal control and training of staff members must be improved. Rules protecting personal information and punishing those who mishandle it must be strengthened. Something is seriously wrong when the authorities stand by and allow several Internet sites to operate with instruction in diverting personal credit information. Policing ought to be beefed up immediately.