More protection needed to secure private information

Somehow, my information was passed to the National Rifle Association, and I'm now a member.
Somehow, my information was passed to the National Rifle Association, and I’m now a member.

By Corey Risinger

It is a Thursday night, and you and your family are finally sitting down to have dinner. You take your place at the table, turn on the TV, and finally have the chance to relax. But wait- the phone sounds, and all of the sudden, you are overwhelmed with the dreadful caller ID of “1-800.”

In today’s world, an individual is bound to be confronted by numerous surveys, customer satisfaction commentaries and pleas for political donations. While some of these phone calls from political and charitable organizations may burden your dinner plans, their purpose, to raise awareness about local politics and businesses, is an acceptable interruption. But for those that lack appeal, you also supposedly have the option to put yourself on the famed “Do Not Call List.” I discovered, though, that this assurance can be easily reversed.

As students, we give out our information to colleges, to the College Board, to summer programs. With all of these outlets, one might wonder where their personal information actually goes. Recently, I found out that mine went to the National Rifle Association.

Neither my family nor I were members of this organization, but this reality soon changed. Leafing through the mail, I found a letter curiously addressed to me, containing a slew of bumper stickers, NRA flyers, and a personal membership card. Without expressing individual interest in joining the organization, I was suddenly a member.

The old phrase “you can’t judge a book by its cover” has been engrained in almost all of us. I find it appropriate to extend this value of free association to joining an organization. Being a member of the NRA, the AARP, or any political party should not define us.

However, the jarring realization came when I considered that my personal information must have been sold, given, or stolen in order to secure my membership status. When we receive a letter addressed to us in the mail, whether it be from the ROTC, the NRA, or a college or university, has our privacy been breached?

It is certainly extreme to call for the end of all solicitation or advertising. In fact, marketing plays a crucial role in our American life. But, it does bring up the question of whether the “Do Not Call List” needs to expand in our modern-day society. As technology improves and communication becomes more instantaneous, some safeguard is needed to protect our personal information.

At the least, there needs to be an accountability for those organizations we do share information with. To do this, our advertising world needs to adapt, issuing legitimate promises that information will not be sold to third-party entities, or merely making a more reliable agreement that an agency will refrain from unsolicited contact.

Today, I am a member of the NRA until 2014, or so my membership card reads. This is a clear indication of the need for greater security to protect individuals’ private information and personal interests.

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