Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Information For Sale*

We Live In The Information Age. That Information Is For Sale.. Even To You.

A reader sent me an email asking me for my thoughts on a website that provides “background checks”, for anyone with a credit card, after he had seen a commercial on TV. (I guess it is supposed to be more effective than simply Googling someone’s name…)

Vodpod videos no longer available. claims to provide “background checks” (much like you might hire a PI to do) but also has this disclaimer — though, who reads those?

“Disclaimer: While we are constantly updating and refining our database and service, we do not represent or warrant that the results provided will be 100% accurate and up to date. BeenVerified™ is a database of publicly available sources of information aggregated for your convenience. BeenVerified™ does not provide private investigator services and this information should not be used for employment, tenant screening, or any FCRA related purposes. BeenVerified™ does not make any representation or warranty as to the character or the integrity of the person, business, or entity that is the subject of any search inquiry processed through our service. None of the above-featured companies either sponsor, endorse, or are in anyway affiliated with BeenVerified™.”

The keywords here are “aggregated”, and “publicly available sources”.

Some similar aggregator sites I have written about before: and Spokeo. (You may want to click those links and read..) There are several others. But, BeenVerified’s marketing angle is a new one to me.

What these sites do is collect, correlate, compile into one easy list, and sell access to the various mentions of us posted online, and/or uploaded into public databases (and there are many of those.. like property tax records, phone books..), information you could access yourself, one piece at a time. Short version: automated Big Brother. They are kind of convenient. And as time passes, and we put more of ourselves online (or the Gov’t and Businesses do it for us), the more detailed these ‘reports’ (search results, essentially) will be about us. Those doing genealogy love sites like this.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
In my years of writing, I have often talked about surveillance societies, tech, and “Big Brother” (use that last as a keyword in my search widget). From reader reaction to these articles, I have concluded that the concept formerly known as “privacy” is dead.. and that nobody cares.
After all.. it’s pretty cool that you can look up your High School sweetheart, and your childhood pals. Right?

For those of you thinkers out there – I might ask you to consider the Law of Unintended Consequences. And maybe ask yourself how many people using this service (to decide if you can rent from them) read the disclaimer. Or how criminals might use (and love) these services too?

The future is here.

(PS — I have found that websites that advertise on TV.. well, I don’t want anything to do with them. And, the good ones don’t need to. That goes for software as well.)

Orig. post: 2/22/11

Bonus: Earth to Microsoft: Please stop changing your product names

A rose by any other name would be, well, confusing.” Read more..

Today’s quote:How is it that our memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person?” ~ François Duc de La Rochefoucauld

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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February 9, 2012 - Posted by | Internet, security


  1. I don’t like this at all. It’s bad enough you got the government doing it and charging YOU and others for the info. But to have some company that I don’t know out there that has all my info and making money off it ..burns my butt! Enough said about that or you won’t be able to post the rest.

    As for your PS, I could not agree more.

    I got this from my Cloud8 newsletter.
    A person wrote a “Letter to the Editor” at USA Today regarding privacy and how he was looking to buy furniture on the internet and the next week all these furniture ads from other stores showed ads. And how no one respects privacy anymore..blah..blah!

    He adds..”My Facebook account has only my name, birth year (not the correct day), city, state, high school and college, the last two in case a former classmate wants to say hi. I would never put my address, phone, real birthday or e-mail on any such site. But younger people seem oblivious to the consequences.”

    Then he signs his name, city and state.

    And it’s NOW on the internet.

    Letters: People need to guard online privacy –

    Now, this letter has been a comment on a blog plus the newsletter I mentioned…You never know how things will spread.

    Plus I wonder..Does he have a setting on his FB for former classmates so ONLY they can drop by and say “Hi!”?


    Comment by delenn13 | February 9, 2012 | Reply

    • delenn13,
      It no longer surprises me…

      I wrote this piece wayyy back in 2010…

      Big Brother Big Business

      A Society of Surveillance: Everyone Should Be Aware Of Our Current Reality

      CNBC’s David Faber examines the rapid advance of technology that allows companies to monitor our every move and record our most private personal information. Read more..

      (That video would be mandatory viewing had I been elected Supreme Omnipotent Benevolent Dictator Of All Things in that last election..)


      Comment by techpaul | February 9, 2012 | Reply

      • Yes, that is a good video. It should be required for everyone to see. I use cash most the time. But you can’t over the internet. So one way or the other they have you.

        I just got another newsletter from Cloudeight. They sent me here…

        I have a bad feeling about this – raganwald’s posterous

        This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

        May the force be with you!


        Comment by delenn13 | February 9, 2012 | Reply

        • delenn13,
          I found that a very good read – thank you.

          (Yes, I will put a link in a more prominent place.)


          Comment by techpaul | February 9, 2012 | Reply

  2. I’m a little late reading this post:

    Yes, Paul I remember your first posting of the subject of Big Brother… I found it alarming, but soon relaxed and carried on with life. Feeling that it’s impossible to protect ourselves “completely” from Big Brother the Hackers and Others… Being Vigilant… I can only “do my best.”

    Reading this re-posting, AGAIN, is a further “NUDGE” to be careful with our personal info. i.e.- to use cash whenever possible.

    I will further update my mailing list to send this current posting out to people.

    I agree with the info. and comments here, no need to add more except to add:
    I think raganwald’s posterous is an interesting read.


    Comment by Anonymous | February 10, 2012 | Reply

  3. oop’s… got ahead of myself, phone rang, a distraction ha…the above comment belongs to this.


    Comment by Gaia | February 10, 2012 | Reply

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