Monday, June 06, 2005

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY: New search engine raises privacy concerns

Web site creates privacy issuesThose of us who are mediators know how important confidentiality is to the mediation process, and we endeavor always to honor the privacy of parties.

Privacy is important of course in other contexts, especially when identity theft and security breaches occur so frequently these days (case in point: CitiFinancial’s announcement today that it somehow lost the personal financial data of some 3.9 million customers).

Out of the Box Lawyering, a law blog, recently reported that personal information on virtually anyone in the U.S., including date of birth, address, and home telephone numbers, is available on ZabaSearch, a new search engine. Just type in your name, select the state you reside in, and see what happens. You may be unpleasantly surprised.

This is troubling news for anyone who doesn't want the whole world to have access to what many of us view as private information (especially anyone who's been fibbing about their age). For details on how to remove yourself from the ZabaSearch database, visit Snopes.com (yes, the web site devoted to debunking urban legends).

While admittedly this post is most definitely off-topic (despite my good-faith attempt in the beginning to link this to confidentiality in mediation), I figured this was serious enough stuff to warrant sharing with my readers who may not want their personal information spread all across the Internet for everyone to see. Please go ahead and pass this on.