mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Invading my privacy for better pizza delivery? Nifty...

My slightly paranoid landlord sent me this link from the ACLU's website. He also sent it to my ex-roomate/coworker, and we watched it at work.

Both of our reactions were along the "hey, that would be kind of neat" lines, which I'm pretty sure wasn't what the ACLU was hoping for. Then again, we both are techies and were probably thinking what a huge database that thing would have to query..

Sure, the whole health/diet aspect might seem a bit much, but some of the other stuff - like using caller ID to know where to deliver your order - is in practice and increases customer service. Running a credit check might not be a bad idea - and might result in fewer bankrupcies and costs passed onto consumers to make up for those deadbeats who don't pay their bills (although it seems kind of unlikely that anyone would use it on a small credit card transaction, since the point of the credit card is that it guarentees the merchant that they will get paid - any debt would lie with the credit card company, and the merchant will verify the credit limit when they swipe or otherwise process the card transaction).

Even the health aspect probably wouldn't be that bad - hey, some people, especially healthy people, would stand to benefit with lower rates. Any time you can better estimate risk, you get fairer insurance premiums. But there are a ton of pizza places, and quite a few insurance companies - chances are that if you didn't like having to get the sprout sub because your health insurance company is in bed with your pizza parlor, you can probably find either an insurance company or a pizza parlor that isn't.

That's the thing to remember about the ACLU's paranoid shockwave file. Nothing I saw in their scenerio involved the government, except for the "libary book" thing. If you don't like companies doing this kind of thing, then take your buisness to companies that don't do it, and let companies in general know that if they do share your info in ways you find inappropriate, you will take your business elsewhere. But some people will welcome our new robot, errr, database overlords - because used correctly they can result in faster service and lower prices.

I'm more nervous about what the government does than what businesses do, because short of changing my citizenship I can't escape the government. And I would bet that many in the ACLU have no problem with the government taking around 15% of everyone's income by force for social security (when you count the employer "contribution"), but lie awake at night knowing that your pizza parlor might know if you have AIDS.


At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The likelihood of doing a credit check on a small transaction is small, but your original point is valid. The cost of non-payment of credit cards is still passed on to consumers. The credit card company charges fees for processing transactions for that purpose, and organizations that accept credit card payments consider that cost when providing their goods and services.


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