You can run, but you can't hide
November 03, 2003
Have you, like we, been flabbergasted lately over the kind and amount of information easily available on the internet? What most folks might consider personal information may be a part of the public domain and consequently available to any entrepreneur who wants to make a quick buck from it. In one case for just $7.95, a Net user is able to locate not only addresses and phone numbers but also information such as dates of birth, marital status, income and cost of buying a home.

We stumbled upon intelius touted as “the world’s largest and most accurate source of information on the Internet,” quite by accident, although admittedly we were snooping ourselves in order to find an address of someone based upon knowing his phone number. We had good intentions, sending him a photo we had taken of him, but not everyone’s motives are pure.

For curiosity’s sake, we decided to run some names. Out of the dozen or so people that we searched on intelius, only one was not listed. He has an unlisted number and is somewhat of a private person...but we’re sure he will turn up listed somewhere…when dead?

Just the other day we received an e-mail from a friend who was irate over discovering that she could input a phone number in the google search bar and be given an address, plus a link to an address-locator like mapquest. She was passing on the suggestion that people not allow their phone companies to include their addresses in phonebooks and to have google remove the info about them from their database. (To do that, just input your phone number, click on the phone icon and then fill out the form that appears towards the bottom of the webpage that comes up. Google claims that it takes 48 hours for the deletion to take place.)

We considered the point of the US government in mandating that businesses mail out yearly statements of their privacy policies not as protection for the individuals involved but more as a way for the feds to beef up the post office system. We wonder if the government plans to take a stand regarding dissemination of information on the Net?

Highly unlikely, huh? Pretty scary. The electronic world is shockingly instantaneous.

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Censorshipkas249306902005-03-08 15:59:41