Privacy in the Modern Era

As I don’t want to simply “out” somebody on the Internet, I’m seeking a volunteer for my next post. My goal is to show that we have no expectation of privacy in this modern era and that any sufficiently motivated person can find a non-trivial amount of information about you.

I plan to do this by collating and posting all of the public information I can find given a few small pieces of your personal information. You and I can work out what an acceptable set of information is, however, the amount will necessarily vary based upon my assessment of the uniqueness of the information. For example, John Smith need not apply, the signal to noise ratio will make it nearly impossible to identify one in particular. However, I should note that in the past I’ve been able to identify people off of just their first name and a hobby.

As part of the process I’ll be documenting the entire search to identify where I got each piece of information. Since I’ll be limiting myself to only the information provided to me initially, people I already know pretty well may apply, though I don’t know that it will provide the best example as I’ll be able to quickly identify signal and noise.

I think that this demonstration is important, simply so that people are aware of what information is available about themselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing, in the past I’ve used variations on this theme to get back in touch with long lost friends. However, it has other uses that are potentially more damning: gathering background information about prospective hires and gaining an upper hand in real estate negotiations.

So, any takers?

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