Jeremy Clarkson and identity theft
Well, first of all, a happy new year to my readers! And I am glad to be able to report that page visits to this blog more than doubled in 2007 over 2006, to well over 5000 pageviews. I am very happy about this and will take it as a reminder to update this blog more often than I have recently done (take that with a grain of salt, like all new year's resolutions...).
Another reason to be upbeat is a story reported by the BBC today. It concerns Jeremy Clarkson, a British TV presenter specialising in motor journalism, and in my personal view one of the most unhappy examples of British jingoism-cum-machismo, someone who revels in almost every conceivable sort of public insult, especially against foreigners. Even his employer, the BBC, has described him as "not a man given to considered opinion".
Clarkson has a column in the tabloid The Sun, in which he recently made fun of the concerns about the lost personal details of 25 million British people due to negligence of the British tax authorities some six weeks ago (see this blog entry). Clarkson, alleging that this was all unnecessary fuss about nothing, proceeded to prove his point by publishing his account details (including account number and sort code) as well as instructions about how to find out his address in the newspaper.
"All you'll be able to do with them is put money into my account. Not take it out. Honestly, I've never known such a palaver about nothing," he teased his readers. But not so, as he had to find out: when opening his bank statement recently, he found that someone had used that information to set up a direct debit to a charity which took £500 out of his account.
It is to Clarkson's credit that he published the mishap, and even admitted: "I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake." And: "Contrary to what I said at the time, we must go after the idiots who lost the discs and stick cocktail sticks in their eyes until they beg for mercy."
While losing £500 will not ruin this wealthy man, he had to learn the hard way (and some may be surprised he is capable of even that). But will it turn him into a champion of data protection in the future? Only time will tell...