‘Privacy Is Becoming a Luxury’: What Data Leaks Are Like for the Poor
Elizabeth Brico reports:
When Jayne checked her email on the morning of February 13, she didn’t expect to find anything particularly exciting. The 34-year-old, who asked her real name be withheld out of fear that speaking out could affect her housing benefits, was enjoying a rare moment of relative peace on a snow day in a household with five kids. But when she opened the attachment from a note sent by the Seattle Housing Authority, she did not see the routine newsletter she anticipated. Instead, she was staring at a list of names, addresses, e-mail addresses, and tenant code numbers for the more than 500 clients of the city’s Scattered Sites low-income housing program, which includes low-income complexes that are typically smaller and more family-oriented than bigger housing projects. Jayne’s own name and personal information were included on the list.[…]
In reality, the February e-mail sent by the Seattle Housing Authority with the wrong file might not have any grave repercussions. It was relatively small in scope, and did not include financial information or the kind of sensitive data that is most commonly used to defraud someone. But the event highlights a larger issue: Poor people in this late capitalist moment have little control over what information they must give out to survive, and what happens to it once it’s in the hands of the government or some other entity, well-intentioned or otherwise.
This is a very long piece, but I encourage you to read it all. There’s always so much attention on hacks involving celebrities. We really under-report the impact on those with less resources.
Read the story on Vice.