Worlds Largest Processor of Consumer Data is at Center of National Security Debate

Monday 9 February 2004 15:40 CET | News

US Based Acxiom collects and massages more than a billion records a day, customers include nine of the USs top ten credit card issuers, as well as nearly all the major retail banks, insurers, and automakers. But lately Acxiom has found itself at the center of anti-terrorism, national security and consumer-privacy issues. Two recent cases in which hackers gained access to the companys data raise serious questions about the vulnerability of databases which should be secure. The threat of hacking goes far beyond the privacy of consumers, Acxioms data will be a critical tool in the fight against terrorism--in programs such as the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, or CAPPS II, which color-codes airline passengers in terms of their likelihood to be terrorists. Since Sept. 11, Acxiom has been campaigning for crucial federal contracts in homeland security, so the hacking incidents--hackers accessed data belonging to 10% of Acxioms customer base, involving the records of millions of consumers--come at a bad time. And there have been other problems, such as the uproar over JetBlue asking Acxiom to provide data on two million passengers for an Army study. Despite its "Big Brother capabilities," Acxiom has earned praise for being a pioneer on privacy issues. And the company has taken steps to improve the security of its data. But the larger question is whether the hacking incidents and the concerns about privacy will derail efforts to create a linked infrastructure of databases to help in the war on terrorism.

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Categories: Payments & Commerce | Payments General
Countries: World
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