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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Anonymity is history! Become paranoid!

Several times I watched some criminal sitcoms on TV and there were criminals mentioned to have access to public records. At first I haven't really realized what that mean. I know that white pages or public address books are available to everyone by law, but there is also a service like Secret phone number with which you won't be listed in public address books. Then by accident I wrote friends name into a Google. I clicked Search. I couldn't believe what kind of information I get. After filtering for information that really is of my friend and not some person with the same name there were still numerous information that shouldn't be available to the public. Address and phone number are secret and are not available in the public address book, but still they were on the Google. Test grade from University were also available, and they shouldn't be if you're not a student of that University. Results of some award game which my friend won. Then out of curiosity I wrote several other names and last names into Google. And I get lots of information about my friends I didn't know even though I know them for several years. Then I tested for my own name, and there were information about me also.

At that moment I realized why some people so concerned with anonymity on internet are. Because nothing on internet is a secret. If somebody wrote it, everybody can see it. Most of the times are white pages and public address books are programmed correctly, so they won't leak information in search engine indexing process. You have to go to their pages to get it. But some organizations are not concerned and they haven't configured their robots.txt correctly. By that search engines can index any available information. And they shouldn't.

Beside the fact that there is available information on search engines, there are also person search services all over the web. Here are some: Whowhere, Ussearch, Nettrace – People, Pretrieve, USA Search Record, and many more. By search there freely you can find all sort of information about people in USA, Canada, and UK etc. Fortunately lots of European countries are NOT available. By so I couldn’t find myself, but I did find some relatives which live in USA.

There are also genealogy services which can tell you about your relatives or relatives about someone else. Here are some: Genealogy, Ancestry and Familytreemaker. Almost every one of those services are offering even better information if you pay something. You can pay by search or on monthly basis, depending how much information you need. After finding out all of that, I realized it is scary how much can somebody find out about you.

„How do you know that? I haven't told anyone about that! Who told you that? “

Do you have a problem with somebody stalking you? He knows everything about you? Which college you studied in? Which seminars you wrote? Which sport competitions you were participating? Every person you dated in your life?

How does he know all that? You probably wrote it somewhere. In some forums, blog, college essay or wherever. Everything written in internet is indexed and can be found.

Please do yourself a favor and check out what information can be found about you. Don't be lazy about it, go deep in searching attempts. That way you will be informed about the fact what some psycho can found about you.


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