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Source: nzherald

Seybold warned that Sony will not contact its users in any way, including by email, asking for credit card numbers or other personally identifiable information, and that when service is restored, people should log on and change their user name and passwords.

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff issued a similar warning, and she is also sounding the alarm about a cavalier approach to privacy among many public and private sector organisations.

A survey of 50 large businesses and government agencies, including Air New Zealand, Fonterra, trading banks and government ministries, found many of them are starting to use overseas cloud computing providers to store or process information.

However, many don’t check the overseas service providers use and management of the information, and “the people whose information it is often don’t have a clue where the information is or how it’s controlled”.

Agencies frequently don’t have policies about how customers’ information can be used, and many are unaware of how things like the use of mobile internet or devices like smartphones takes information away from their control.

“Many businesses and government agencies do not see the use of these devices as involving overseas infrastructure, which it usually does,” Shroff says.

Her office is using the survey to develop guidance on mitigating the risks involved in using cloud services.

The cloud most people are probably familiar with is social networking sites, and taking a few moments to do the survey put up by the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities might encourage you to change their privacy settings, if not your online behaviour.

A lot of the advice from the APPA seems obvious but is too often ignored: think about what a future employer or partner might think about the information that you share; set up “friend” groups to control the access different people in your life have to your personal details; location-based check-ins can be risky – do you really want everyone to know that no one’s home?

Location is what is creating another privacy storm, with people waking up to the fact that Apple, Google, Microsoft, telecommunications carriers and who knows who else are collecting and storing huge amounts of location-based data.

Use your smartphone and you are giving away your location through GPS, wi-fi proximity, cell tower triangulation and probably user check-in services.

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