What we need are checksums on personal identification numbers, such as SSNs and driver's licenses (which may already have them). I understand the Canadian equivalent of SSN is already checksummed. That might have helped against the identity theft problems that are plaguing us.
At least our credit card numbers are checksummed, for what little good that does us. I'd like to see ecommerce PIN all credit card transactions in addition to the CVN, I think that would really cut down on online fraud and eliminate most of the bottom feeder/script kiddie fraudsters.
As far as the middle initial thing is concerned, an easier method is to do variations on your address. If you live in apartment 123, when you subscribe to Byte, make your apartment number 123B. Or add suites if you're a plain old street address. That will tell you exactly who is selling your info.
Another thing that I do is if some form requires my phone number, I give them 575-555-5555. Seems to work every time.
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it. --Samuel Johnson