Thursday, October 17, 2013
They're Watching You
This morning before work I sat down to check any new genealogy postings I might have missed, and I came across this on Family Search-- United States Public Record Index. Naturally I tried it out and I was amazed at what I found. My name wasn't included, probably because in 1970, when the database begins, I was still a pre-teen groovin' to that great Eric Clapton guitar riff at the end of "Layla", (I still love that). The data supposedly goes up to 2010 so I should be in there, but it's not complete yet so I may make it yet. That's not what shocked me though.
When I typed in my name, an aunt who lived in the same town and shared my surname came up on the screen instead--along with every address she ever had, her phone number and the names of her suspected cohorts. I was not expecting that, in fact it left me dumbstruck. Who put all this information together and why? And how? I didn't much like the answer. Some of it came from credit applications. I never realized credit apps were public information, but they are. You know, the ones with names and SS numbers? Companies sell and trade them like baseball cards.
I'm aware of the slightly sleazy sites online that sell that sort of information, but Family Search? Collecting the personal information of deceased relatives is one thing, but I have to ask why anyone would need to know so much about living persons? Maybe they could stick to indexing Irish records. Rant over.