I work in a unique sector that not many people are familiar with, but everyone has the displeasure of experiencing when they are applying for a job, filing out a loan application, or basically having their credit checked. As the economy has suffered, miraculously we have not experienced any noticable change in our business. Everyone has heard of us, but not too many people know who we are, thanks to a name change a few years back after being acquired by a company looking to diversify its holdings.
This is not a guessing game. But a few years ago, we were involved in a large-scale security breach in which a lot of invaluable information was stolen. Since then, the government has had an iron grip on our balls. The FTC stepped in and decided to make us a model company. Essentially, we as a company sell information that we obtain from data mining to companies that need information on individuals in order to make smarter business decisions.
One would think that we would rise and fall with the economy. Over the years I have come to understand that the economy truely has no lasting effect on our business dealings. We have several seasons in which business booms, i.e. hiring for part time summer help and the Christmas holiday season. It seems that over the years businesses have become more comfortable with their ability to select the employees they want to hire based on information they can find about a person’s entire life. Not bad for businesses, right? It comes with a large price tag, but it is in the interest of investors to scrutinize over whom they hire and when.
I am all for the success of big business. But not when it comes at the cost of taxpayer dollars. We are an industry leader. We should have failed several years ago, but thanks to government intervention, providing new direction, we are healthier than ever. Businesses are not hiring as many employees as they usually do, but they roughly spend the same amount of money; since they have tons of applicants knocking on their doors, they get to be more selective as to whom they are hiring.
The government has indeed help guide us into a new era. As the most scrutinized of all businesses in our unique industry (which can be debated as to if this is the reason why we are the industry’s leader), leading businesses in other industries come to us because they know the government has our back. That defeats the purpose of a free market. The purpose of the free market is to allow consumers to decide which businesses succeed and which businesses fail. Government does not have the right to have an interest in a business for their own benefit. The entire industry is forced to follow our lead, as we set an example for how to do things right, having done things wrong in the past.
In our case, our company was seen as a liability and was thus swallowed at a discounted price by a public company looking to diversify. Almost like a managed bankruptcy. But the government gets to control the way we do business.
On the other hand, some form of government has to be there in order to enforce security to show integrity. So the question is how do we retain small government when some form of government intervention is necessary in order to prevent any other large scale data breaches?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_breach (my employer is not on this page since our breach was just prior to 2005)