Privacy invasion

We seem to be getting used to privacy invasion and sharing information online, apps etc (even people stupidly posting their credit/debit cards online – FAIL) but I was astounded when I asked why my new Samsung Galaxy S3, top of the range cannot work properly with my Mac. You plug it in and it sees nothing. So I asked Samsung, told them the problem, model of phone and even computer OS and type and got this response:

Unfortunately, we do not have enough information from your email to begin troubleshooting your problem effectively. In order to assist with your query as best we can, please provide the following information so we can investigate further:

1) The model number, OS version and Build number of your device (Settings > About Phone)
2) The IMEI number (dial *#06# on the phone)
3) The serial number (can be found on the handset by removing the back cover and the battery)
4) The PDA, Phone and CSC version numbers (dial *#1234# on the phone)
5) Date and place of purchase
6) Full UK address including postcode
7) Your current network service provider

Some of them make sense but address? Place of purchase? IMEI? Even network provider in my case with an unlocked phone does not apply. I see no upside of providing a lot of this information, and quite a few downsides. Even my PAYG network provider doesn’t have all of this info – for many years they didn’t even have my address.

Samsung you really need to know all this information to work out why it doesn’t work? Do you want me to send my passport and fingerprints too, and a retinal scan for good measure?

The sad thing is stuff like this is seen as normal – and I had days of fun trying to get my money back from Simply Electronics (please don’t shop with them – at least not without googling how many unhappy customers there are waiting on refunds, like I didn’t) because they instigated the same ‘security’ measures over buying a phone (passport, proof of address, bills etc). So I said sod it and went to eBay and bought a perfectly good phone without the hassle.

But I’ve always lived with the idea you work on a Need To Know basis with personal information – it’s not paranoia it’s security – how do I know Samsung support, or the frankly terribly organised Simply Electronics won’t misuse or lose my information? Is it safe? Why does it need to be told anyway?

Interesting to contrast how HTC with my previous phone dealt with support calls – I think it was just serial, or not even then. They certainly never needed to know my address! It does worry me that Samsung is going down the Sony/Apple line of nannying it’s users.

Identity theft is rife, and best thing is not to have the information out there in the first place unless it is needed. I’ve sent an email to Samsung asking why they need to know this info, be interesting to see what their response is – and might be interesting to include Open Rights Group or EFF in this conversation if they respond to the negative.

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Tim B Written by:

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