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April 2005

Editor's Desk: Identity anxiety

FDIC for Identities To all the people in my Outlook address book, mea culpa. While upgrading to a new laptop, I lost four years' worth of contacts--names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, notes. Desperation led to Plaxo. I've had suspicions about Plaxo, but I knew many knowledgeable security people who used the free automated contact management service. If they felt comfortable with it, so could I. Wrong! I got responses like: "I'm morally opposed to Plaxo." "Plaxo is the devil's work!" And, "Dude, it just makes me nervous." My favorite: "How can I tell you're the real Larry Walsh and not some Michael Moore-loving clone?" Who can blame them? The service asks for copious amounts of personal information. All I wanted was people's e-mail addresses and phone numbers, but got birthdays, spouse's names and blog sites, too. Suddenly, my Outlook is popping up with reminders of people's birthdays. Worse, every PR agent and publicity hound is trying to send me their v-card. All this got me thinking about how uncomfortable we are with our ...

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