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5 BIGGEST PRIVATE DATA BREACHES REMEMBERED ON DATA PRIVACY DAY

Source: Business Review Canada

Posted on January 31, 2011

Google acknowledged on January 28 that it was International Data Privacy Day 2011, so it must be true. While it's fun to look to the future of privacy protection, it's even more fun to dig up past data privacy blunders. Here's a list of the most recent and memorable. The list takes into consideration the number of users affected and the importance of the data.

5. Netflix
Thought social media websites were the only companies with lax private data policies? Last year, Netflix held an algorithm contest whereby 50,000 entrants were handed data sets of 100 million movie ratings and the private information of 480,000 Netflix customers. Their objective was to create a better algorithm than the one Netflix utilized. Problem was that movie rental records are legally protected private data. Netflix was slapped with a lawsuit and told to terminate the contest. The Netflix data privacy incident is considered one of the largest breaches, ever.

4. Facebook Beacon
No surprise to see Facebook make the list. Facebook could probably make the list 10 times over. This particular private data controversy stemmed from Facebook's Beacon program, which shared users' Blockbuster rental records.

3. Google Buzz
Google's attempt to rival Facebook with Buzz, a social networking and messaging tool from Google that integrates with Gmail, was met with harsh criticism and serious data privacy concerns. Gmail users' private data was involuntarily shared with all Gmail contacts. The Google Buzz rollout was botched from the beginning, with privacy czars around the world, including Canada's Jennifer Stoddard, condemning the unilateral decision.

2. Facebook Apps
Thought Facebook app developers weren't sharing your private data with advertisers and marketers? You were wrong. Despite Facebook prohibiting this practice and requiring app developers to adhere to this term of agreement, app develops were selling personal information of Facebook users. Facebook publically admitted the blunder, promised to fix the situation and never let it happen again. The damage was done to Facebook's credibility, nonetheless.

1. Heartland Payment Systems
The data privacy breach at Heartland Payment Systems could be the largest breach ever. Last year, an estimated tens of millions of users' credit and debit card data was stolen. We're not talking about whether a user likes Farmville or rented Brokeback Mountain. We're talking about valuable private financial transaction data stolen. Enough said. Heartland Payment Systems takes the cake. Now go check your privacy settings.




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