Friday, July 13, 2012

Personal Lives, Social Networking, and Privacy Rights

Facebook and social networks have quickly become some of the best background research tools on the internet. They are not only used by individuals, but employers, colleges, and other entities. Over the years, people become both more concerned with privacy rights, and more public about their personal lives. But shouldn't we consider being more private about our personal lives and more public about our privacy rights?

Facebook is pretty clear that you are giving up most of your rights to privacy when you sign up, and that anything you post (including personal pictures) allows Facebook the publishing rights to reuse? Your personal information is no longer personal, the rights to it are owned by Facebook. This means that even if you delete something, Facebook retained the rights to it for up to seven years! There are many background check companies that have decided to take advantage of this information, and sell it within your personal background check records...

Interested in seeing what you can find in your social network background? There are a number of services that will show you what a potential employer or school may see, but that may also depend on the service used, as well as how far back their records date. TransparentMe is a service that is accessible through Facebook, and currently provides the social background check for around $20. Reppify is another service promoting background checks to employers, and states that their background checks include information from Twitter, Facebook, GitHub, and LinkedIn. Another company, Social Intelligence, is offering "Social media screening and research".

While most people complain about their privacy rights, they continue to post their personal lives on social networking sites almost universally. The few who have refused to participate in the usage of the most popular social networks are somewhat criticized for being behind in the technological world, rather than learning anything about how to protect their privacy. There's an old saying about what people know about you: "People only know what you tell them." Sounds like a good rule of thumb to me...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Accessing U.S. Court Records and Public Documents

If you're in need of public records or court documents, there are a few different routes you can take. Whether you need marriage records, birth or death certificates, court dockets, case files, records of adoptions or probate, and even judicial orders, many can be obtained through the internet, written request, telephone or in person. Knowing where to go is half the battle.

You'll need the name or names on the court documents. If you have both parties of court records, you'll have a much better chance at obtaining the correct documents. Along with any names involved, your search can be defined by knowing the document type, a court records number or case number, city, county, and state in which the records are located.

You can check for court records directly from the court, either through the court's website, or telephone, or even by mailing in a specific request, containing ALL of the court document information. Sometimes when ordering copies of documents, there may be small fees such as copy fees, or document fees. If you are mailing a request, should contact the court by telephone to find out about the specific documents you need, and the fees - if any. Online there may also be a per-page fee, and can often be purchased securely with a credit card on the website.

You can also access federal and Supreme Court documents through the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts PACER Service Center. There website requires a membership, but has a very extensive database. Justia is another highly useful website, created to search for federal district court documents.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ixquick Search Engine Respects User Privacy

Are you looking for a search engine that doesn't share your private information? Well search no more! Ixquick has decided that they don't want to record IP addresses, and that means that there are no records to keep. While you may not get the same search engine results as you would with Google, Yahoo, or others - but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your usage and privacy is respected - and not recorded.

In a press release early this year, Ixquick announced that it completely stopped recording IP addresses, creating a privacy-friendly search portal. “At Ixquick we feel people have a fundamental right to privacy” says CEO Robert Beens. “Using a search engine is sharing your innermost secrets and habits which should be safe. Ixquick has the best privacy policy of the search industry. Today it has become even better.” They previously used a system that dumped user data after 48-hours of retention time, but that has all changed. They no longer record the information at all.

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