Saturday, August 27, 2005

People search site to add commenting features

You can find a lot of information about people just by using the internet. One of the premier "personal data search engines" is Zabasearch. Enter any name and, optionally, their state, and you'll get surprisingly accurate contact information: Name, address, phone number, birth month and year. With a few additional clicks, you can order a background check on anyone in your search results.

Making all this available online has upset privacy advocates (Wired News: Your Identity, Open to All), but they are now taking it a step further. The "public domain" information can now be supplemented by anyone with a grudge or too much time on their hands. Starting September 1, 2005, ZabaSearch will offer a "ZabaBlog" to let anyone comment about anyone. I can't see that anything good will come of this. David Lazarus, of the San Francisco Chronicle, has written a recent column on the development and solicited the views of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (Search site to add free blogs). The company itself doesn't see anything wrong with this. Collecting and displaying public information isn't illegal and blogs are constitutionally-protected free speech, they say.

The feature isn't live yet, but it'll be interesting to see how it is used and what sort of fuss ensues.

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