MINNEAPOLIS - A whole lot of people have 'googled' someone at some time or another. But you may not realize just how much personal information is really out there - online.
KARE 11's Camille Williams looks at just how easy it is for anyone to find that information and how that information gets there and what you can do, if anything, to stop it.
Cyber expert and CEO of Computer Forensic Services, Mark Lanterman says, free online people search sites are popping up more and more and, those sites are, more intrusive, more precise and more difficult to hide yourself than any old phone book we've ever seen.
Lanterman trains many high-profile figures like district court judges, even local celebrities, on how to better protect themselves and keep their information private. and he's seen many examples of people misusing consumer information found online.
"There are people who become obsessed with others maybe bad relationships maybe someone holds a grudge and what these services do is it gives them a road map to their adversaries' front door," said Lanterman.
He says by paying as little as $50 someone could find even more information on you like where you work, how much you are paid, the car you drive, your charitable donations, your political affiliations, even your gym grade from high school.
So how does your personal information get on these sites especially if you don't share it yourself?
Tiffani George, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission's division of privacy and identity protection says data brokers likely sell it to these sites, as they collect and buy consumer information, without us even knowing, from everyday things, like on-line or in-store purchases, social media activity, magazine subscriptions.
"Generally, a lot of information might be sold or exchanged for example marketing purposes but there's very little restriction on how that information is used downstream we want to make sure it's not falling in the hand of Identity Thieves or others who might misuse the information," said George.
So what can you do to protect your information and keep it private, you could opt-out of every single site out there but the FTC says that could almost be impossible.
“Currently, it would be pretty onerous for a consumer to track down every data broker that has information about them and figure what their rights are to that information," said George.
Back in 2014, the FTC recommended that congress require data brokers be more transparent and give consumers greater control over their personal information.
There have been bills but none have passed.
Recently, Senator Al Franken introduced a bill that would fall in line with the FTC recommendation, that bill is headed to the Senate Commerce Committee.
If it passes, through there then it will head to the senate floor for a vote.
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