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A Precaution on Public Records

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The fact that our personal records are stacked over the web, accessible to anyone who would care to take a peek at our lives is outright frightening. Anyone can do background checks on anyone; from your next door neighbor to a secret admirer. This makes you feel extremely vulnerable and at risk.

Apart from personal details, more and more information are starting to make their way in the net. Records, background histories of all kinds and even images of signatures are now accessible to anyone who would care to search for them making the Internet a gold mine for Identity thefts and stalkers.

Many concerned citizens have taken this problem into their own hands by. Some make extra efforts of sending letters to people alerting them of the dangers posed by these public records and warning them in case their personal information appear online.

A warning to everyone: all records posted online are available to anyone with internet access from marketers to real-estate professionals, anyone! Transparency of records has been a long-time practice of American culture, and unfortunately so are the exploitations made by commercial institutions on this freedom.

You may want to ask, how could such personal and confidential information wind up in the web?

Ask that to the people who were willing to sacrifice privacy for the sake of technology and progress. After the creation of the World Wide Web, government agencies rushed to make their information available over the net. They considered such actions as a show of progress and efficiency. Sadly, they weren’t thinking about the future consequences. There are a lot of dangerous people out there who could pose even greater threats once armed with these kinds of information.

How do we get out of this mess? Recently, counties are starting to remove the crucial bits of information from the web. Several businesses with databases accessible over the internet have taken extra measures to keep Social Security Numbers off their online records; although online records are undeniably helpful for many institutions and have opened up new opportunities for businesses.

In Sweden, a certain site used to offer financial details from the country’s national law authority for free! The sharing of such crucial information was finally regulated by the government. Now, these financial records are still available over the web for a certain fee (ten requests for $10). The site managers have also taken an extra step by informing people whose finances were viewed of the identity of the person who requested for the information.

Measures like these may go well in Swedish culture but Americans are definitely against the action. American tradition sees transparency as synonymous to honesty. For some people, public records are here to benefit and not to harm. Some say records made available to the public should be screened first. Some people want a change in the laws regarding public records and some expect these changes to be a long and painful process.

Although there is no direct solution to identity thefts using online records, bear in mind that those living in our neighborhood always pose a greater threat.

Although the fix could never happen overnight, the promise of privacy and confidentially is enough to make us start. Online records would have to be assessed of every bit of information and crucial or “damaging” information must be removed. The extent of information available to marketers who exploit databases should also be regulated. The World Wide Web is generally a very large closet containing information of all kinds. Just as closets need to be organized, data found in the web would also require a whole lot of organization and arrangement.

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