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Identity Theft & Issues For Search Engines

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Search Engines Find Stolen Identities from Information Week dares to go into the issue of how search engines can reveal personal details about people and perhaps aid in identity theft, leading off with how a Google search can bring up social security numbers, credit card details, bank accounts and so on. Fair play, it also makes it amply clear that other search engines can be used this way as well.

It's familiar territory that other articles have covered before. This article does go into some new areas of wondering if search engines are liable for showing the info (doesn't seems so) and if perhaps they should take a more active role, given that they do censor for spamming and legal reasons.

In the end, it remains an issue that if it's on the web, the search engines are likely to find it. It's difficult to know when they should step in and pull listings, especially when dealing with public records.

On the other hand, the issue continues to be a concern over all these years and even at the highest level, as Google CEO Eric Schmidt found out when News.com used a few examples of what you can learn about him on Google to illustrate a similar story on this topic earlier this month. As a result, News.com got slapped with a "we won't talk to you for a year" ban by Google.

The ban of course, doesn't solve the problem that Schmidt's personal info is still available on the web and finable through Google. See Google Blacklists News.com over in our forums for further extended comments from me on the issue -- along with a quote from back in 2003 when Google cofounder Sergey Brin was asked about these types of issue and himself was uncomfortable that some might use Google to learn of his home address.


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