The Rational Outsourcing Blog

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bangalore nee Boston Globe: why the privacy red herring may come back to haunt the Boston Globe union

If you haven’t heard about the union objections to the Boston Globe outsourcing 50 positions to India, then you should see the or Times of India or the Outsourcing Weblog sites. You can also see the actual ad here (as a pdf).

The union says: “Further, billing and account information will now be shipped overseas to Bangalore, India, putting customers’ most vital information at risk.” As I have written several times before, this is a red herring. Outsourcing these task to India may actually improve information security. Remember, just last year Boston Globe saw one of the most absurd privacy breaches I have ever heard of. If you have forgotten, here is a quick reminder from a story.
Credit and bank card numbers of as many as 240,000 subscribers of The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette were inadvertently distributed with bundles of T&G newspapers on Sunday, officials of the newspapers said yesterday.

The confidential information was on the back of paper used in wrapping newspaper bundles for distribution to carriers and retailers. As many as 9,000 bundles of the T&G, wrapped in paper containing subscribers' names and their confidential information, were distributed Sunday to 2,000 retailers and 390 carriers in the Worcester area, said Alfred S. Larkin Jr., spokesman for the Globe.

In addition, routing information for personal checks of 1,100 T&G subscribers also may have been inadvertently released.
The Globe and T&G financial information was inadvertently released when print-outs with the confidential information were recycled for use as so-called "toppers" for newspaper bundles. A topper, placed on top of abundle of newspapers, is inscribed with the quantity of papers in each bundle and the carrier’s route number.

Oh, the irony! Before using privacy as a Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) attack against outsourcing, the union should have remembered that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

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