Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!

2004-09-28

Google me not



This is the title of an interesting article [use "qioffbbcpw@mailinator.co" as an e-mail address for the next seven days to get to the full article] from Forbes magazine about how search engines can sometimes reveal a surprising amount about things that one might expect to be kept private [via Dave Farber's IP list].




Type the right words into Google and up comes a trove of files documenting an acrimonious divorce between two business executives in San Diego. Support payments are calculated based on a $450,000 income. The husband accuses the wife of being a "shop-a-holic." He lists all her possessions, including furs worth $15,000. He's eager to finalize the divorce, because, as he writes, he was to marry again in June. All this is personal, private information, no longer even up on the original Web site, yet stored by Google for everyone to see, including friends, family and business associates who enter in the divorced couple's names....



Google turned up detailed monthly expenses and employee salaries at the National Speleological Society's site, caves.org. Says the group's president Scott Fee, "That ain't supposed to be up there."On the site of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. course materials are posted for a class on computer networking, including log-in files that could be of interest to the right hacker. All manner of personal correspondence, including transcripts of intimate instant-messaging exchanges, can be unearthed by search engines. Pamela Dixon, a privacy advocate at the World Privacy Forum, tells of an elementary school teacher whose contract was not renewed with a Solano County, Calif. school district. This item appears in the minutes of a school board meeting. The announcement still comes up second upon Googling her name. Dixon says this has been devastating to the teacher's job search and that attempts to have the minutes taken down have so far been fruitless.




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