I can remember one glorious summer day in the country traveling through “Pennsylvania Dutch Country,” in Lancaster, PA, I saw a sign with an Amish saying that, like a red hot branding iron, burned it onto my mind! That sign read: “TOO SOON OLD, TOO LATE SMART!”
Today, as a Senior Citizen of 73 I know exactly what they meant!
In my sixties, I went back to college to take advanced computer science courses and I earned enough credits to get a New York State License to teach computers.
I “Aced” every course except one and now I know why. That course was called something like “Managing Computer Databases 101” and as I got into it, I saw something dark and sinister. I intensely dove into the course work it was the knowledge and not the grade I wanted.
What I learned is that almost everything and every bit of data in the universe is somewhere in a database. Think of all the government agencies local and national, of all the banks, insurance companies, and marketing firms etc., which have collected information on you and about you. Even George Orwell could not have conceived of this near critical mass of information and data about us!
Databases range from a simple one that you can make with MS Excel & Dbase III and higher and the cool one you get in MS Office called “Access” just to name a few. Some programs are so large and sophisticated that they have to run on super computers and others with computers hooked up in parallel that can handle trillions and trillions of bits of data or 10 to the 12th power bits per second of information!
Now the simple sequence is A) pick the program, B) design the program to do what you want from it and then C) tediously enter the data. Then what you do is massage or “sort” for the information you want - people who eat whatever, do whatever, have whatever - you get the point. Sorting through DNA data takes time but can be done, as many criminals now know.
If someone has a grudge against you and enters false information about you into a database (like the databases maintained by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles) or listing you as deceased in a Social Security database you could be in for trouble with a capital “T!” Try convincing the Social Security Administration that you are still alive. Pure Agita!
Your driver’s license has tons of critical information - speeding violations, DUI, suspensions and even your social security number - and I have been laughed at for telling that to people! Now, there are laws - federal, state and local about who and why someone can “run” your driver’s license. Look here:
The Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), was originally enacted in 1994 to protect the privacy of personal information assembled by State Department of Motor Vehicles. It safeguards the personal information of licensed drivers from improper use or disclosure. Aside from official use, your permission is required for somebody to gain access to the information on your driver’s license. What kind of information is stored? Here’s a list:
This information includes the driver’s name, address, phone number, Social Security Number, driver identification number, photograph, height, weight, gender, age, certain medical or disability information, and in some states, fingerprints.
There are serious penalties if one chooses to illegally obtain or make false entries - these are considered criminal acts. Keep your driver’s license in your wallet where it belongs and hopefully you never have to use it or lose it.
Sam Di Bernardo is a computer teacher and successful businessperson.