Giving It Away

In the same issue of a newsweekly magazine is an article discussing the hack at Sony Pictures and another piece about Apple Pay and CurrentC, two recent innovations in mobile commerce.

In the first instance, the moral to the story is: if it can happen to Sony, it can happen to any business.

In other words, because this was the very first time any business organization’s computers and digital records have ever been compromised.

In the words of one contemporary wag: there are only two kinds of businesses – those who have been hacked and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.

In the newsweekly’s second instance, the story exalts the virtues of modern financial methods for ordinary people such as us. Using precisely the same system that was hacked by the awful cybervandals who attacked Sony.

In another context, a favorite expression of reassurance and comfort is: This Time It’s Different.

In the financial and so-called investment community, for instance, TTID has been in play since at least October 1929. And, since then, in most, if not all cases, it was not in the least different.

In a climate of reasoned (and, maybe, reasonable) paranoia, where disclosure of such deeply personal information as dress size and inseam length is viewed as tantamount to revelations of national secrets obtained under duress and involving bamboo shoots and fingernails, we remain quite happy to give away information and access to our bank accounts with each new method of commerce.

In exchange for such enormously significant things as reward points or premiums upon purchase.

In most instances, of course, we are either not around to claim the reward, the rewarding agent changes the rules for what reward follows accumulation of which specified number of points, or the rewarding agent discontinues the reward program.

In the bad old days, we gave away our double-secret information to gain access to what the ATM wrought; before that, the great unwashed were lured by credit cards that had previously been restricted to elegant Diners and Expressly Americans.

In the good new days, we gladly part with personal information to anonymous non-bankers with no fixed geographic location while jealously guarding perfectly irrelevant information from such well-known trouble-makers as clergy and teachers.

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