Peter Huber argues in Forbes that there is no "privacy" in our social security numbers or credit card numbers. The "secrecy" of those things does not really authenticate us. So this business of giving people lots of notices about compromise of their numbers seems pointless.I hate to rehash all that has been written about breach notification laws but I don't see a lot written on the public policy reasons for breach disclosure/notification laws. Well..., I don't hate rehashing too much, here goes.
There are reasonably several justifications for breach notification laws:
- Accountability of the data custodian
- Alerting the data owner of the breach
- Collecting public policy data on frequency and manner of breaches so that we can prevent them in the future
The main public policy value of breach notification laws as written today is probably #3. Interesting in and of itself, but because of the nature of the breaches it isn't clear that the costs of the breach notification are worth the costs of disclosure. Or, more specifically, it isn't clear that the public notice with specifics-per-company is serving us perfectly. An anonymous repository of details and types of incidents would accomplish roughly the same public policy goal without all of the associated costs.
I'm not arguing that companies shouldn't disclose, but I have yet to see an analysis of the costs on both sides of the issue. I'm hoping someone can point me to one.
Part of the argument of course hinges on the responsibility of companies to not disclose data entrusted to them and the rights that the data owner has. There are costs of our current regime however, and based on public reaction to data breaches (continuing to do business with said firms as if no incident had occurred) perhaps people aren't as interested in breach notification as we thought.