So, how many e-mails have you gotten the last couple of weeks from companies with whom you’ve done business, alerting you that their security has been breached and that your name and e-mail address may have been stolen?

My count is up to six, I think. Walgreens, Target, Kohls, Barclays Bank, a couple of others I don’t remember. It turns out that these and a number of other companies farm out their email marketing to a single company called Epsilon — a company that reportedly sent 40 billion promotional emails last year.

I believe it … I certainly received my share of them. These days, in fact, I get more junk email from legitimate companies than I do spam. The businesses have somehow snagged my email address, usually through a discount offer, and then mercilessly populate my inbox with monthly, weekly, or even daily specials that they seem to think I just can’t pass up. 

The notices sent to customers assure us that our credit card numbers or other personal information was not stolen — just the names and email addresses. They warn us to watch for targeted spam from Internet crooks posing as real companies they know we do business with, and remind us that we should never give out any credit card numbers or personal information in response to an email: good advice that most folks should already know and follow.

I’m thinking now that it would be a good idea to see if I can unsubscribe to all of those lists and do my inbox a favor in the process.

The thing that struck me, in reflecting on this, was trying to imagine the size of the database that the Epsilon company — through its accounts with 2,500 corporate clients — must have: millions and millions of names and email addresses, all tied to some sort of information about our buying habits.

And to think, this is just one of many digital databases in which such information is stored. It boggles my mind just to try and imagine so many names, numbers, and associations stored in cyberspace.

And yet, the Bible claims that God knows how many hairs are on the head of every one of the earth’s 6.8 billion people.

Talk about a database . . .

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