I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did – Social Networks and the Death of Privacy – By Lori Andrews – Book Review – NYTimes.com. 27 January 2012
This is an article I came to indirectly via a 29 May 2012 post in Business and Human Rights about the $26 pamphlet published by Lori Andrews “I know who you are and I saw what you did”. I have not read the book (253pp) but the NY Times should give here an accurate account of its contents. I would agree with the criticisms made (providing obviously that it is what Mrs Andrews said). The author of the review is Evgeny Morozov with his most recent book is “The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom.”
More importantly, when I scrolled on the webpage of the ABA that reports this article (and two others), there were two comments, one of which quotes the website “spokeo.com”. So I googled it and entered my name, just to see. The site seems to be purely US and does not have any information on me, at least on its freeview version (maybe if I pay, I would find information). Just to see what type of info they collect I typed a person’s fairly common name who I know. I was absolutely amazed to see the exact address appeared ALONGSIDE (that is the scary bit) the name of this person’s partner, the number of family related people to the name etc… In other words, even the free version allows you to have a pretty good database of people where all their personal info is centralised.
Spokeo, in its privacy page (yes, it exists!), explains how the information is collected: phonebook, marketing surveys, real estate records, social networks etc… http://www.spokeo.com/privacy
Moreover, part of the site is not accessible to those who do not pay. So what information is traded by the company and to whom? At least when governments have that type of information, they have a duty to make it available to the public in forms of statistics etc.. or to the person on which they have the info. there, there is no obligation. I would argue it is even against the company’s business policy to be controlled on what they trade.