ChoicePoint's CEO doesn't want to talk to you after all

The CEO of ChoicePoint Inc. - the data mining company that mistakenly released the personal information of thousands of Americans to a Nigerian identity thief - recently changed his mind on some privacy issues. Namely, CEO Derek V. Smith now wants to keep his home phone number private.

You'd think Smith would be the last person on earth to stymie the flow of personal information. After all, his Alpharetta-based company earned $884 million last year by collecting and distributing to businesses and at least 35 different government agencies nearly every American's home phone number, home address, legal documents, criminal history and other vital records.

Last week, CL published Smith's home phone number and address because we thought it would make it easier for ChoicePoint's thousands of identity theft victims to get some sound advice from Smith on these rather complex privacy issues. There's nothing like having the contact info of a multimillionaire CEO of one of the world's largest data companies in your Rolodex, you know?

Alas, after the number was published, Smith got a new, unlisted one.

Maybe Smith wants to lower his profile now that ChoicePoint is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC wants to find out if ChoicePoint broke any consumer information security laws. And the SEC wants to know why Smith and ChoicePoint Chief Operating Officer and President Doug Curling sold about $17 million in company stock days before the security breach that compromised 145,000 people's identity was made public.

At least Smith hasn't changed his home fax number yet. As of press time, it was 770-752-0881.??

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