I was thinking about the time I first accessed the internet, up to the present, AND was questioning myself; “What have I put out there?” Now, I am talking about anything and everything from emails, web accounts, web mail, online purchasing, online chatting, files, credit card numbers, etc… Actually, I try to be very careful of what I am doing; however, what little I have put out there, is out there AND there is no turning back. The little bit of information I have put out there is just enough that my identity and privacy could ultimately be breached.
Recently we all read in the news where the ESPN reporter was a victim of a peepster who posted shots of the reporter on the internet. I actually was chuckling when there were reports of trying to stop this transgression and get it back. There is no getting it back… In this case, the internet takes over, and these shots were spinkling down on people’s PC’s like rain (a million drops a second). There is just no way to stop it and there is no way to get it back.
It amazes me what people are putting out there on the social network sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. Remember, when the information you are posting is “all about you”, it could come back to haunt you years down the road. The younger generation, oblivious to privacy, is telling it all and exposing sensitive matters about themselves that would make a sailor blush.
Email is another interesting tool that we use that leaves a trail. My email sending policy, is to keep it short and never express my feelings about something or someone. Once you hit that send button, it rockets into cyberspace, which in essence can be infinity. Email can remain on servers forever. To give you an example, when I retired, my email account (at a government agency) remained active for over 2 years until I demanded it be terminated. Termination of the account took it out of the public’s view; however, my data and email correspondence was still there.
The purpose of this article is to heighten your awareness about your identity and privacy; AND to make you think about what information you are giving away about yourself. It is human nature to investigate and to be curious. With just knowing your name and your zip code, a person with bad intentions can get your address, a map to your house, a photo of your residence, your property tax records, and it goes on and on.
Are you out there?
Simply by using Google or Yahoo you can find an abundance of information by simply entering a person’s name; however, there are online services that specialize in deeper searches (see below). I encourage you to perform a search for your name, using these services. If you know of any other services, please leave a comment below.