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How serious are we about fighting crime?

19 April 2008

Arthur Goldstuck writes about the problems experienced by a schoolgirl whose Facebook account was hacked, and the reluctance of Facebook to deal with the problem.

However, when there is a clear violation of one user’s rights, surely the balance of rights tilts away from the perpetrator and towards the victim? If someone vandalises your car in a mall parking lot, is the mall owner obliged to refuse access to video footage from the security cameras because it wants to protect the privacy of the vandals?

It reminded me of what happened to me when my credit card was stolen.

I reported the loss to the bank even before reporting it to the police. The next day I had a phone call from the fraud section of FNB. They wanted to know if I had bought petrol at such and such a garage at such and such a time the previous night. I said I hadn’t. They said they would reverse the charger. I then asked for the car registration, which is recorded on the slips signed when one buys petrol.

Oh no, they couldn’t release that information. It was private and confidential.

I asked if they would like the case number and the name of the investigating officer in ther police, so they could give him the information.

No, they didn’t think that was necessary. Goodbye.

It seems to me that the banks complain quite a lot about the losses that they suffer because of crime, yet they seem to have very little motivation to catch the criminals who are causing them those losses.

People love to whinge about the “unacceptably high” crime rate, but the banks seem quite willing to accept it. Why should they care? They just make up for their losses by charging their customers more.

Facebook doesn’t charge those customers more, of course, but the loss affects them even less, at least in the short term.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 April 2008 4:25 am

    I’m not sure about the laws where you are, but here in the United States the sort of info you are talking about releasing could be obtained, but only by court order. Then again, no one takes down registration here when buying gasoline. I work in the mobile phone industry and the matter of privacy comes up frequently. We can’t even give out call details, billed or unbilled, over the phone because of legal concerns.

  2. 20 April 2008 6:27 am


    Here, when one buys petrol with a credit card, the vehicle registration is written down on the slip, and many garages have CCTV cameras as well. These precautions are presumably taken for the purpose of detecting and preventing crime. So when a stolen card is used to buy petrol, one would expect the information to be available for the purpose of catching criminals, otherwise, why go to the effort of doing it? One would probably find that the car was stolen as well.

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