Without Information, There Is No Information Age

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Equifax chairman/CEO Thomas F. Chapman wrote an opinion piece in last week's Wall Street Journal defending the data industry because of the recent security breaches. He wrote in part, "Some organizations have gone so far as to call for the shut down of so-called data warehouses that, as an editorial in one major newspaper pointed out recently, serve 'no obvious advantage to consumers.' " Mr. Chapman didn't name the newspaper (it was the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) but the editorial didn't stop there and went on to question whether businesses should be allowed to collect that data in the first place.

If we are now in the Information Age, cutting off the flow of information would be like not having any factories during the Industrial Age. No, the answer is not to take away the information but to treat it with care and use it wisely. Interestingly enough, I had to provide my first name, e-mail address, age, income level and various interests to gain access to that editorial on the Journal-Constitution's Web site. Now, they're not going to store that information anywhere, are they?

As a consumer, however, I took issue with Mr. Chapman's comment about credit monitoring services. "Checking one's credit report, even several times a year, is akin to using your smoke detector only on weekends. It simply is not enough." He then urged consumers to take a more active role in monitoring their credit health. Fine, but Equifax's service is a lot more expensive than four batteries for my smoke detector each year. Has this become part of the price of living in the Information Age?

More Services Go Offshore

Call center offshoring was a topic of debate in last year's presidential election. Ask Joe Consumer and he'll say he doesn't like the notion, yet he buys his electronic gadgets as cheaply as possible. I received an e-mail solicitation last week from Express KCS, which has taken offshoring into the prepress area. With facilities in New Delhi, the company provides cut-outs, color correction of digital images, typesetting and other services. Its clients include Nike, GlaxoSmithKline, Pepsi-Cola and Benetton. Last week, Polestar Group, Europe's largest printing company, said it will use Express KCS for its reprographic work. I know printers have facilities in neighboring countries to keep costs down, but I hadn't heard that much about this concept. Pretty soon, what will be left in the good ol' USA?


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