Final Word from Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some people collect art, others collect wine, and almost all collectors love to show off their treasures. Except for the data collectors of the world (and thieves, of course). Whether in the public or private sphere, data-collection specialists love to assemble but hate to divulge. Most people don't give a second thought to sharing their personal information. We're willing to give up certain freedoms to gain certain conveniences, like Facebook or Google Street View (which failed to get approval in the CR yesterday). We won't abuse your personal information, say the few major data collectors who are visible to the public eye. But Google CEO Eric Schmidt admitted to CNBC that it's possible that personal data might be made available to the authorities under the Patriot Act. As long as democratic governments remain in charge, most people should be okay. But just imagine if totalitarian regimes ever came back into fashion.[Czech Republic data protection office]

Glossary of difficult words

to assemble - to gather, collect;

to divulge - to make known (private or sensitive information); to disclose;

a second thought - (with negative) more than the slightest consideration;

Patriot Act - a U.S. law expanding the authority of the government to search records, regulate financial transactions, etc., in order to obstruct terrorism.


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