Personal details disclosure on the internet (1/9) 

Today I got this package in the mail from an order I placed with a big online retailer. Along with the goods came an invoice, but it was for a different person's order, placed within a day of mine.
The paper slip listed, beside a list of items the other person ordered, the order tracking number, recipient name and full address for delivery, as usual for invoices.

Personal details disclosure on the internet (2/9) 

Curiosity got the best of me (sigh) and I googled the name and zip code (this was an US address).
The first result was for a website called MyLife: off the bat it lists the person's name, birthday, ethnicity, religion, income range, a list of properies they own, where they studied and where they work and have worked, current and past addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Plus a list of family, friends, neighbours, classmates, and more.

Show thread
Follow

Personal details disclosure on the internet (3/9) 

But this isn't all, mind you.
The website also presents a "Reputation Score", with 馃憤 and 馃憥 buttons inviting the visitor to "raise [or lower] [person's name] score".

On the website they say "Your Reputation Score is calculated with a proprietary algorithm using details in your Background Report and reviews written by people who know you. It says a lot about your character and life experiences is used to assess you in many situations."

Web 1 0 0

Personal details disclosure on the internet (4/9) 

The website conveniently shows the reputation score for each person in the "family and friends" and "neighbors" sections, along with a red "鉂楋笍 Alert: Court Records" right next to some of them; of course these people have a lower reputation score than the rest, because, you know.

Show thread

Personal details disclosure on the internet (5/9) 

Under "Can I control this page?" they say:
"Yes. You can edit and comment on many of the details on this page. [...] These are free functions. [...] MyLife Background pages like this appear in Google searches six times each second so [it's] important to control your page to look your best to the world."

I mean, I don't think this needs much commentary. They profit from doxing, and ask for people to further dox themselves. WTF!

Show thread

Personal details disclosure on the internet (6/9) 

This whole service is *incredibly creepy*.
A person's details are shown publicly, searching only for their name and zip code. I have a feeling these people might not even know their personal details are on the web.
The reputation score reminded me of what's being controversially implemented by the Chinese Government, with the distinction, of course, that in this case it's a score being assigned by a private company, which is no less worrisome.

Show thread

Personal details disclosure on the internet (7/9) 

The Google search also listed a different website with a lot more personal data publicly exposed. This website, BlockShopper, shows the person's address, who they bought the house from, when, and for how much. That page also reveals how much they paid of property tax each year, and the demographics of the neighbourhood ("community").

Show thread

Personal details disclosure on the internet (8/9) 

Again, I was able to find this person's details with a quick google search with basic data like name and zip code. And these companies list this data publicly, and make money from surfacing even more details.
Data breaches like Equifax's and the like are worrisome, but this takes disclosure of personal information a step further, because they're legally (?) making it accessible to anyone within seconds, and also making a profit from it.

Show thread

Personal details disclosure on the internet, advice (9/9) 

I'd read about some of this in Violet Blue's "The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy", but I'd never come to face with it.

So do yourself a favour and search the web for your details if you value your privacy.
When you search, in an abundance of caution, don't search with too many details, and avoid clicking the links directly (copy the textual URL to the browser's address bar), because search engines collect data from clicks.

Stay safe.

Show thread

Personal details disclosure on the internet, advice (9/9) 

@shello If you really want to freak yourself out, play with some of the searches listed here inteltechniques.com/menu.html

But he also has a good podcast and tips for cleaning up a lot of the data that's way too easy to find these days

re:Personal details disclosure on the internet, advice (9/9) 

jesus fuck i just looked up my stuff and in order to remove it in one website i have to provide them a copy of my photo ID and shit to prove i鈥檓 me requesting the removal.

why would i want to send more personal data to you

re:Personal details disclosure on the internet, advice (9/9) 

sometimes i forget how truly terrifying the internet and people on it can be 馃檭

Personal details disclosure on the internet (7/9) 

@shello property tax info can be scraped by searchers now that municipalities put all that stuff online. People could look up taxes and neighborhood demographics pre-Internet by going to county departments and manually going through paper, but the ability of large search companies to collate and monetize it are something no one has really addressed.

Personal details disclosure on the internet (7/9) 

@raye I don't doubt some of this information is, and has been, public for many years. It's a good thing that we can look up public records to find discrepancies, and hopefully investigate corruption and/other morally dubious schemes.
My concern was indeed about how some companies are just scraping, compiling and crossing a vast amount of data on everyone, making it easily searchable with the intent of making easy (and grossly unethical) profit.

Personal details disclosure on the internet (5/9) 

@shello WTF indeed. I'm reading the Wikipedia article for MyLife and I can't believe that, despite all those court settlements, that company hasn't found its way to bankruptcy yet. They must milk their victims a lot.

Personal details disclosure on the internet (5/9) 

@shello Wait, I missed this bit: 鈥淸In 2009] Ancestry.com reported it had begun a data sharing partnership with MyLife.鈥

The same Ancestry.com that went on to sell DNA kits? Yikes.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Octodon

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!