German news site Spiegel reported that the country’s biggest credit agency, SCHUFA. planned to include information from Facebook and other social networking sites in its analysis of citizens’ credit reports. SCHUFA released a short statement, noting, “The goal of the project is to analyze and research Web data.” The credit agency also told Spiegel that everything it was doing is legal according to German law.
Luckily for German Facebook users, after the overwhelming backlash, SCHUFA decided to halt and reverse its decision, canceling what was supposed to be a three-year project. The reaction to SCHUFA’s original announcement even drew action from hacking community Anonymous.
However, while SCHUFA has decided not to mine Facebook info to help determine credit scores, Time writer Martha C. White worries that American institutions might be tempted to do so:
For one thing, there’s just too much money to be made: Credit reporting and collections is a $20 billion business. American privacy laws are also much more lax compared with European countries. Most importantly, the data is there for the taking: Americans are alarmingly cavalier about what they post online and how much information they expose to the public.
Financial institutions checking out Facebook to gain more insight is nothing new. Banks have been using Facebook information to determine financial risk when dealing with borrowers.
Readers: How would your online behavior change if you knew banks and financial institutions were using your information?
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