With 11 shopping days ‘til Christmas, Yahoo dropped a lump of coal into the stockings of 1 billion of its users with news that their accounts had been “breached.”
That’s tech-speak for “bad guys forged your cookies” — and they are not talking about the sweets you leave next to Santa’s glass of milk.
Worse, bad guys have Yahoo’s “proprietary code” — and they are not talking about Pitbull’s million-dollar “trade secret.” For purposes of this holiday migraine, cookies and codes are the cyber-pathways by which everybody who does anything on the internet can have their savings stolen, their credit ruined and their life destroyed.
There will be time after Christmas for recriminations, and for Verizon to pull out of its “what were we thinking?” plan to pay $4.8 billion to take Yahoo off the hands of its shareholders.
Right now, Yahoo’s shellshocked customers are playing pickup sticks with passwords and slogging through lists of What You Need to Do Right Now, Dammit.
Meanwhile, back in the 20th century, Florida elections supervisors are fretting over the privacy of voters’ home addresses, which any 8-year-old can find on the internet, and birth dates, which most voters seem to have already shared with Mark Zuckerberg, Mike Allen and Peter Schorsch, and are happy to have them pass it on to the world.
No matter how much time we spend changing our passwords and passing ludicrous exemptions to our public records law, privacy is an idea whose time has come — and long gone.