Tuesday, January 11, 2011

(empo-tuulsey) Do you have the heart to look into this privacy issue story?

There are unintended consequences to the retention of information, as both D.P. Lyle and the Palm Beach Post have noted.

Roger and Peggy Gamblin owned a title company in Florida when they mysteriously disappeared in May 2008. 1 1/2 years later, in October 2009, an indictment accused the couple of raiding client escrow accounts at their company, Flagler Title.

Fast-forward to late 2010, when a man checked into Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, Colorado with cardiac issues. When the doctor checked the man's pacemaker, he discovered that the pacemaker wasn't registered to the person who checked in to the hospital. Instead, it was registered to one Roger Gamblin. FBI agents subsequently arrested the Gamblins, who had been living under assumed names.

Dr. Lyle, who has been previously mentioned in this blog, explained one reason for the registration of the pacemaker:

You see pacemakers and other body appliances, such as artificial hips and the like, have serial numbers etched into them. These numbers are easily traced to the manufacturer, the doctor who implanted the device, the hospital where it was done, and of course the name of the person who received it. Such serial numbers are often used to determine the identity of an unknown corpse. A body that is found with no identifying paperwork but which has a pacemaker, an artificial hip, or some other medical appliance, can then be identified through the serial number on these devices.

But when this system was designed, presumably the designers didn't anticipate that it could also be used to solve crimes.

Do we have to expand our definition of biometrics even further?
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