The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. One of the most daunting challenges for the telecom industry over the next couple of years will be to ensure that a subscriber’s personal information doesn’t fall into the hands of people with malicious intent. With the increased use of the Internet, both wireless and wired, to conduct various types of transactions, the amount of personal information residing in far-flung databases is expanding at exponential rates. Much of this information is being used by savvy marketing specialists targeting a certain segment of society for a specific item or service. In the years to come, more of this will be done over wireless networks and subscribers will begin receiving ads on their phones. Done in a tactful manner, this can be a helpful service. To a major degree the integrity of personal information has been taken care of with the new Privacy Act which came into effect this year. But doubts still remain in the public’s mind, especially when talking about conducting financial transactions online. Incidents of credit card numbers being hacked from a retailer’s website are all too common and a better job needs to be done to maintain a high level of security. Personal data can obviously be a valuable commodity in the hands of unscrupulous people. And sometimes it’s more than just personal information that can be exposed to the general public at large. Last week, a website was broadcasting live conversations of analog cell phone users. And to the surprise of many, it wasn’t illegal. While we only have Mike Smith’s assertion that he wasn’t trying to gain anything from the posting of the conversations, we do have to remain skeptical. As much as increased security measures or even the elimination of online retailing all together can solve the problem, fraud can still happen in the old fashion way. As I recently discovered, it’s relatively easy for someone to get a hold of your driver’s licence and credit card numbers, open an account with one of the country’s wireless operators and then rack of hundreds of dollars in phone calls. Next time you rent a car, ask the attendant how they make sure your information is protected from falling into the wrong hands.