Monthly Archives: December 2007

Protect Your Online Personal Information

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A common question that is often asked is how to reduce or restrict online access to personal information. As noted by the Pew Research Center, “4% of all online adults say they have had bad experiences because embarrassing or inaccurate information was posted about them online.”

In addition, The Free Public Directory Blog notes that a 2005 survey found “one out of four employers has rejected applicants based on research via search engines.”

The Pew Research Center has recently published a report entitled “Digital Footprints” with this warning:

The digitization of public records and the increasing accuracy of search

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The Facebook Bonanza of Public Information

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The Free Public Records Directory Blog notes that the popular social networking site Facebook has recently expanded public access to information about Facebook members, making the site an even greater bonanza for finding personal information on millions of people.

Social networking sites are increasingly well-known sources of information for attorneys, private investigators, law enforcement and employers. Ultimately, an individual is responsible for managing their personal information online and this article highlights the ways that control can be lost by participation on social networking sites.… Read More

The Facebook Bonanza of Public Information

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The popular social networking site Facebook has recently expanded public access to information about Facebook members, making the site an even greater bonanza for finding personal information on millions of people.

For example, as noted by PIBuzz.com on December 24, 2007, “commentary by teens can be mined for information on their parents – who may be jurors, experts, plaintiffs, defendants, claimants or witnesses – for background, employment, insurance or locate investigations.”

In the January 7, 2008 issue, The Nation reports:

… One study at the University of North Carolina, for example, found more than 60 percent of Facebook users

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Doctor Prescription Records Stay Public, For Now

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From the Associated Press, via My Way News on December 22, 2007:

A federal judge has ruled that a new Maine law making doctors’ prescription-writing habits confidential violates the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock concluded that the law, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, would prohibit “the transfer of truthful commercial information” and “violate the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment.”

I was somewhat surprised to see the argument made by parties challenging the law, including IMS Health and Verispan, described by the AP as companies that “collect, analyze and sell medical data to pharmaceutical companies, … Read More

Teacher Misconduct Records Go Online

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The Free Public Records Directory Blog reports on several online databases of teacher misconduct records, including a new nationwide database.

These databases do not contain complete information about why a teacher has a discipline record, but there are ways to find more information. Even though online teacher misconduct records may not have details about why a teacher has a discipline record, other public records can be searched to find more information.

CourtReference.com and The Free Public Records Directory are sites that can help find online court records, law enforcement records and court contact information in every state.… Read More

Teacher Misconduct Records Go Online

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Nationwide records of teacher discipline were kept from public view until recently, when a Florida newspaper collected and published the records in an online database that can be searched by name.

The announcement of this database creates a debate between competing interests, including from some who wonder why the records were not public to begin with. On the other side of the debate, there is the possibility that the newspaper has acted in an illegal manner by making otherwise private records available online. From Breitbart on December 21, 2007:

A confidential, nationwide list of 24,500 teachers who have been punished

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How To Find Legal Help When You Can’t Afford It

The internet offers many online legal resources for people without attorneys, including legal information and other self-help resources. Some sites also link to organizations that offer free or low-cost legal assistance. The sites listed below are suggested as starting points to find online legal resources in every state.

Legal Information: Legal information is not legal advice, but it can outline the laws and procedures for different types of cases. Many general questions can be answered with online legal information.

Legal Assistance: Legal assistance can take several forms. Every state has organizations that offer free legal services to eligible

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Identity Theft and Online Government Records

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The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have issued this warning about online access to government records:

There is an almost certain prospect that easy online access to personal information will prove a bonanza for not only identity thieves, but predatory businesses such as unscrupulous telemarketers.

… The thief may use personal information to obtain a credit card, a loan, open utility accounts, rent an apartment or even to complete major transactions such as purchasing a car or a home.

Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, loan account numbers, dates of birth, and bank account numbers represent

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