As everyone, even the ape creatures of the Indus and the mold under my sink, is probably aware, there is a lot of information on the web about everyone. Some of it is user-generated, like our Facebook status updates, the comments we leave on news stories, YouTube videos and blog posts, and our tweets, and for the most part we know about that and have some control over it.
However, there is also a lot of data from various sources that it is possible for people to find which you may not know is out there. Usually data is gathered about people to be used in a ‘mass’ sense – such as, you may have data collected when you use your supermarket loyalty card, but this is so the store and people they share their data with can see trends in what thousands of people in different age and social groups are buying, and not because anyone is interested in your shopping cart in and of itself.
However, some of the data that is available on the web about specific individuals can be quite surprising…
There are several sites in the USA that hold data about people who ordinary searchers can find, for example their age, roughly where they live, whether they are married, who they are related to, and possibly even whether they have children. People who want to subscribe to these sites or pay a fee for a one-off search can even find out how much someone earns, and other demographic information like their political preferences. Most people don’t even know they are on these sites as the data comes from things like public records and utility companies, however unless someone has been very much off the grid or has intentionally removed themselves, you can find most American people on these kinds of websites.
License: Creative Commons image source
As well as these sites which anyone can get access to, there are also sites that allow people to make official checks on things like your credit history and even your driving record. In most cases, the only times people will be interested in doing this (because charges usually apply) is if you are applying for something, whether it be a job or a credit line, but it is still worth being aware that records you may think are private and only available through very official channels (like to your bank or the police) are actually available to anyone who is interested enough to pay to see them.
The point of all this is not to make you paranoid that everyone is looking at everything about you – in actual fact the ready availability of this sort of information means most people aren’t even very interested in anyone else’s unless there is a practical reason. It is, however, important to be aware just how much there could be about you and your life on databases around the web. If it bothers you, take steps to delete yourself from lookup sites, and do your best to keep a clean driving license and credit history!
Samantha Brave, the author of this article, is part of the team with, 4SafeDrivers.com, leaders in driving records provision in Cartersville. She is an ardent tennis fan and takes keen interest in yoga.