Data leaks in very interesting ways. The other night I was watching one of the political conventions, and the camera crew of the station I was watching loved to cut away from the speaker to catch glimpses of the crowd reactions. When I saw this image, I thanked %deity% for my TiVo, paused, and rewound a bit. Then, I took a picture of the TV with my cellphone.
Sure enough, this woman – Edith Byrd – is proudly showing the camera her Medicare card. And, the broadcaster is sending out a full 1080p high definition signal, meaning that I could read every detail of the woman’s card. (It’s far more readable on my TV than in this picture.) I see that she’s female, I can even see her signature well enough to copy it. I can see she qualifies for both Part A and Part B Medicare, and the dates when she became eligible, and oh, what’s that blurred out box there? You guessed it. It’s her social security number.
Let’s now combine this with the fact that we can see she’s taking oxygen and I know where in the country was at the time this was taken, and I have absolutely everything I need to cause her a world of hurt. It would not be hard to make false medical claims under her name. Or, use any of a myriad of techniques to try and steal her entire identity outright. This was a major faux-pas on the part of the broadcaster, and Ms. Byrd herself – it doesn’t make a lot of sense to wave your ID cards in front of broadcast television cameras.
In this day and age, where there are cameras everywhere, it makes you pause to think how easily we are able to leak information… Even information stored in non-electronic forms. Good luck, Ms. Byrd. You’re going to need it.