Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"More Public" Thieves & Investigators

The idea presented by the article "Privacy," that once information comes part of a public record it can be reproduced and distributed, is entirely bogus. This first struck me when I read a Facebook post from a friend saying to visit this site and remove yourself. She said they had her salary, house, age, phone number, email, and info about all her kids. This got me thinking then and is a perfect illustration for this topic now.

The idea that public information is public is entirely correct. For the documented past, men have made their careers as private investigators. They would look at all the public files, follow the person and hear the ‘public’ conversations that Danah Boyd speaks of, and interview others about this person. This is the same information that we are concerned about now, it was just not as easy to access then.

The difference between then and now, as Vaneevar Bush put it, is technological devices. Although computers never took the form of desks, he was correct that computers can, with no ‘creative aspect,’ compile and process lots of data. The data that would have at one time difficult to gather is now widely available in central, searchable databases. Also, computers cannot be controlled. If the data makes it out, it can quickly be stored in many of millions of places. You cannot destroy records at will.

The bogus theory that these websites are only putting together the info already publically available should be challenged swiftly. It is absolutely wrong to remove the PII from its context of a funny comment or housing plan and use it for an unintended meaning. This is theft.


  1. Do you remember what site that was? I would like to remove myself, most likely, if I am on it.

  2. I couldn't find it for the life of me. Then, Professor Proctor found it for me. It is called, a part of our Research Assignment.