So yesterday the Surpeme Court ruled that if a state allows its wineries to ship wine to out of state customers, it must allow out-of-state wineries to ship wine in as well. This ruling turns out to be huge news for the little company I work for. As I have mentioned at various times over the past year or so, my job involves building and implementing a Web service. Well, that Web service enables companies to verify the age of their customer against public records. This is the same sort of service offered by ChoicePoint and LexisNexis, the important difference being that rather than offering access to people’s personal data, we return a simple up or down result to the customer. We also offer a similar service that enables people to do other kinds of identity verification to prevent identity theft, again by providing simple confirmation rather than data. Anyway, we don’t do porn, so online tobacco and alcohol sales are a huge part of our business, and this ruling is big news in our small part of the world. In fact, we’re offering wineries a free trial period to give our service a shot in light of this news.
Needless to say, ever since the ChoicePoint identity theft scandal broke, I’ve been dying to comment, but have had to withhold comment because I work for a company that is enmeshed in this industry. Our company has been operating more or less in stealth mode since its outset, but I’ve been given the OK to blog about what we’re doing. I still won’t be commenting on the fellow members of our industry, but I am happy to talk about what we’re doing, mainly because I think that we’re taking on this problem with a less evil (and perhaps even non-evil) approach.
Even though in my ideal world, companies would not have control of my personal data, the fact is that such databases do exist, and aren’t going away anytime soon. Figuring out ways to use that data to prevent identity theft without simultaneously abetting it is a pretty cool problem to try to solve.