Online, your private life is searchable

When Maya Rupert wrote an article frowning at several Southern states for officially celebrating Confederate History Month, Internet critics lined up to fire back.But this time, they arrived with more than harsh words.The 28-year-old Los Angeles attorney’s detractors dug up a photo of her and posted it, along with details of political contributions she’d made, in an online discussion of the article she wrote for the L.A. Watts Times. They called their finds evidence of her bias on the emotionally charged subject.”It really surprised me when I found out that people could see how much I donated to Obama,” Rupert said, referring to the $400 she gave to the candidate last year, the record of which is available through several online watchdog sites.After that, Rupert said, “they pulled a picture off my firm’s website and said, ‘Of course she’s black.’ “Until recently, personal information has been scattered across cyberspace, to be found or not depending on the luck and sophistication of the searcher. But a new crop of “snooper” sites is making it easier than ever for anyone with Internet access to assemble the information into a digital portrait.”It’s amazing what you can Google,” one of the people who criticized Rupert wrote in an online forum.Rupert has since learned that the photo and campaign contributions were just a small part of her online “footprint” — an expansive dossier that she did not realize was available to anyone searching her name.On Snitch.name, users can enter a name — their own or someone else’s — and watch as the site culls information from dozens of search engines, social networks and directories.
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-cover-privacy16-2009aug16,0,5663794.story

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