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Monday, December 5 12:00 AM ET

Santa Claus Under Attack from Privacy Advocates

By Brian Briggs

North Pole – Father Christmas is under attack this week from privacy advocates concerned about the jolly old elf's growing database of personal information.

"He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good," said privacy advocate Ben Hodgkins. "He also knows the wants and wishes of every child on the planet."

Santa ClausHe continued, "Santa has been a good steward of this information, but we're uncomfortable with all this data being concentrated in one place. We're not saying that we don't trust Santa, but what about a rogue elf with a drug habit to support. Stealing the list and selling it to Toys R Us would be tempting."

Hodgkins also worries that Santa operates outside any government's control in his sovereign North Pole region where Santa only answers to himself. "He doesn't have a privacy policy. He often collects his information without the knowledge of the consumer. It's a John Ashcroft fantasy scenario," said Hodgkins.

Santa's information could be valuable to all sorts of retailers as well as government organizations. One Amazon official said, "The data mining we could do on Santa's database gets me in the Christmas spirit. Every request of every child for hundreds of years, that information is priceless."

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Amid growing concerns Santa beefed up computer security around "The List" last year, and continued his pledge to never share or sell the information he has on "all the happy boys and girls around the globe. Ho, ho, ho."

Neil Gruban a privacy expert from the Heritage Foundation isn't convinced. "Santa's all 'ho, ho, ho' on the outside, but running an operation like his takes a lot of cash. Where does that money come from? You're living in a fantasy world if you think it's all coming from licensing fees. "

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