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Privacy fears over gay teenage database


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Privacy fears over gay teenage database

A row has erupted in the United States centring on the ownership of a gay teenagers' database.

The owner of XY Magazine and its associated website - which catered for young homosexual boys - filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

XY's creditors have applied for the firm's one remaining valuable asset: its database of one million users.

But the Federal Trade Commission has expressed its concerns and said the sale "could violate Federal law".

The issue of selling databases is not new, but it is the sensitivity of this particular database that is catching the attention of lawmakers.

The list contains details of tens of thousands of young men, the majority of whom will be gay.

Writing on the technology blog Read Write Web, Curt Hopkins summed up the concern felt by many users.

"The selling off of private information, gathered under the supposition of privacy, is bad enough," he wrote.

"Even worse if you're forced into it.

"And positively untenable when the information is connected to kids who are dealing with a dawning sexual reality that in some instances is even more fraught than what straight kids go through," he added.

Simon Davies, director of the human rights campaign group Privacy International, told BBC News that while privacy policy was very clear, in the event of bankruptcy or winding-up "all bets are off".

"Information shouldn't be used for a purpose other than for which it was originally intended," he said.

"In the UK, it would be hard - under normal circumstances - to take a database and apply it for another purpose.

"However, in the real world, when a firm goes into receivership, all bets are off when it comes to protection, because everyone's scrabbling for something of value.

"It's yet another hurdle for data protection advocates to jump through," he added.

Read the rest.

A case of ethics versus cash. I wonder which will win the day?

I suppose the only upside is that the religious lot haven't got involved ... yet. I shudder to think what they would do if they got their hands on such a sensitive database.

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