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Information Sharing Paranoia

I started filling out Zecco’s Trading Account application several times now and I stop before submitting. Feels very risky, not because I think there’s anything wrong with the company – I think they’re ok! – but as a Canadian it’s just too weird giving so much info to a U.S. company.

I’m becoming more reluctant to give out my information to any company now, especially to 1) foreign companies 2) on the web. Plus there seems to be a lot of identity theft in the U.S. (more than in Canada) and very frequent “big batch” information losses.

Here’s an interesting historical bit from The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio (yes, though I chase after the quick buck, I still read books about the slow buck 🙂 ):

In the early part of this century (20th), the international capital markets were a good deal more integrated than they are now. It was commonplace for an Englishman to buy American bonds or French stocks, and there were few barriers to cross-border capital flow. The two World Wars changed that; the international flow of capital recovered only slowly afterwards. The modern history of international diversification properly begins in 1969, with the inception of Morgan Stanley’s EAFE (Europe, Australasia, and Far East) index. As of year 2000, there is a 32-year track record of accurate foreign returns. For the period, this index shows an 11.89% annualized return for foreign investing, versus 12.17% for the S&P 500.

Ah, simpler times… No need to provide your SIN/SSN and driver’s license number, just fork over the dough. But how did they identify themselves then? “Mr. X, residing on Elm Street #8, **Shire, England”? In a way the fact that we’ve been reduced to a set of numbers protects us, but also makes us very vulnerable (duh, obvious).

With each article I read about how search engines keep tabs on people and browsing habits, my paranoia keeps growing. I’ve even had a nightmare or two about it. It’s not that I have anything to hide really, but I’ve come across a lot of disturbing people; and it’s made me overly cautious ( Cyber-terrorism anyone? ). Having been stalked twice in the past 9 years doesn’t help either. It’s not so much about actual facts being revealed, but about having control and privacy which I think is essential for our mental well being.

So let me count the ways in which exposing too much information to too many sources is Bad:
– Identity theft more likely
– Stalkers
– Sense of privacy stripped
– Added anxiety due to all of the above

I’m stuck, can’t think of anything else.