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What others are saying

Personal data needs stronger protection

The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.:

It's unfortunate it took the identity theft of some 300,000 consumers to wake up Congress to companies that sell personal data, but better late than never.

In addition to the LexisNexis security breach that allowed the personal information to get into the hands of thieves, another company, ChoicePoint, last year was found to have unwittingly sold data on 145,000 Americans to criminals posing as legitimate companies.

It's troublesome enough that these data information brokers know more about us than we likely know about ourselves.

Except for California, there are no federal or state laws on the books that even require these companies to notify consumers that their personal data is stolen.

Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., has proposed using California's tough security breach law as a model for federal legislation. Another member of Congress, Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., wants the Federal Trade Commission to regulate these companies and to also restrict the sale of Social Security numbers.

These seem like good starting points. Uniform federal standards are clearly needed.

Guest worker plan has unlikely allies

Chicago Tribune:

For Taco Bell, it was a pretty awkward situation. Its main fast-food entree is a rendition of a Mexican dish and, for some time, its advertising spokesman was a bug-eyed, Spanish-speaking Chihuahua.

Yet the company was accused of buying its tomatoes from suppliers that exploited undocumented migrant workers, most of them Mexican.

After three years of protests, Yum Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and other restaurants, agreed to pay suppliers an extra penny for every pound of tomatoes harvested by Florida farmworkers.

That hike will nearly double the annual salaries of workers to about $14,000. The added cost will be about $100,000 a year for Yum, a firm with $9 billion in revenues worldwide in 2004. Yum also will set standards for working conditions.

The bad news is that only 1,000 of the 33,000 tomato pickers in Florida will be covered by the agreement. In Florida, an estimated 70 percent of the agricultural workforce is undocumented; in some parts of California it reaches 90 percent.

It's no wonder that farmworker unions and growers' associations - not your usual allies - support guest-worker proposals. Both sides would like an above-board system for recruiting migrant labor.

Stay out of the way

Chicago Tribune:

A baseball fan in Fenway Park got more than he bargained for last week when he reached over a low right field wall, apparently trying to grab a ball hit for a triple by Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. The guy's hand collided with the mouth of Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield, who was trying to field the ball.

The offender was promptly ejected from the stadium, so he didn't get to see the Red Sox triumph over the hated Yankees. He was lucky not to be arrested, and he can expect to be held in contempt by a lot of fans for daring to interfere with the game.

It might be wiser, when a ball arcs toward your seat, just to stay out of the way. If you don't believe us, ask Steve Bartman.