You need to clearly understand how data mining works because it is already affecting your life and will do so much more in the very near future. It is simple to understand and if you’re reading this there is a 90+% chance you use it yourself every day. Any person who wants to know all about you can do a similar search across multitudes of supposedly private databases.
A search engine (Google, Yahoo, Ask – even my favorite Zuula) are all data mining services. You type in what you want to find and the search engine provides the information you’ve requested. It isn’t quite that simple as the search engines filter the data they provide. Filtering is used to eliminate some results and decide in what order the information is presented.
Since most people only view the first page or two, the search engine has great power to influence what information is widely viewed and what is likely to be overlooked. Some are taking this further and actually censoring what appears to be available online. For now we’ll focus on data mining though.
So why should you care about data mining? Try this example. Type in the name of any famous person in your favorite search engine or tool bar. Notice all the information that you would consider private that is available to anyone online. That is just what is supposedly publicly available. What do you suppose is in private databases on that famous person – and on you? What if someone could search all of these at once:
- All three credit reports
- Check reporting companies
- Medical records
- Employment records
Being able to search by name once helped reduce what searches could find on you. This is because many people sometimes use their name in many different forms:
- First Last
- First Middle Last
- First Middle Initial Last
Add to that various ways women have used for maiden, married, and then hyphenated forms and you would think that would make data more difficult to accumulate.
The power of data mining combined with identifying numbers – especially social security numbers – has largely eliminated that issue. Prove it yourself quickly by doing a quick search on any number of public databases. Here is one example:
- Search for Jane Smith showing cities lived in, potential relatives, their age – and that is only what they’ll give you for free. Try searching for your own name or those of others you know. Imagine what someone evil might do with that information that is now free to anyone who knows how to find it?
That is not the only database online. Check out WhitePages People Search which may offer your job title, employer, members of your household, and your age to anyone who knows your name. They also offer to sell more of your personal information to those willing to pay the minimal fees they charge.
Did you notice the WhitePages Neighbor Search function? Type in any address and the database will give you the names and addresses of your neighbors. While this could be a good way to find contact information in an emergency, it could be used for evil. Those who are not aware how much information is now available to strangers could easily be targeted by con artists. If someone knows your neighbor’s names and their kids names what else might you unknowingly reveal to them because you assume this person is a friend or relative?
The fastest way to pull information about you across all sources is by using any information that is common between them. The most dangerous of these is something that never changes and the one and only piece of personal information that almost everyone has for life is their Social Security Number (SSN).
When I was young I clearly remember promises that our social security numbers (SSN) were ONLY for tax purposes and would never be used for identification! It even said that on the bottom of the little paper SSN card: FOR SOCIAL SECURITY AND TAX PURPOSES — NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION. Even the SSA’s own Web site confirms that we were assured Social Security Numbers would not be used as a National ID.
Any databases that contain social security numbers can pull all of your personal information together in minutes or faster! This is why it is a very good idea to stop giving your SSN number out to everyone who asks. Do NOT print it on your checks. Many businesses including electric companies and other utilities will insist it is mandatory when it is not – yet. Keep refusing or offer to use only the last four digits and escalate to management.
Why should you care? Where are we going? Who can speak out if even Christianity is being censored? Are you sure you can handle the truth?
LEARN TO PROTECT (as much as possible) YOUR PERSONAL PRIVACY AND FUTURE:
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – Our first line of defense
- Mike Valentine – Protect Personal and Financial Privacy – how online sites extract private information
- Web Anonymity; Improve Your Online Privacy – Tips to increase your privacy online
- Privacy Lives – You will be amazed at all the ways our privacy is being eroded. This site helps you keep up to date.
[WARNING: One of the easiest ways to track someone is to offer them a way to opt out of tracking! The number of groups that appear to protect us actually hurt us. Telling the difference is extremely difficult. Don’t be in any hurry to use these types of sites.]
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on PRIVACY CONCERNS:
- New Guidelines Would Give FBI Broader Powers – Government Uses of Data Mining (Aug 22, 2008)
- Do You Trust Google to Resist Data Mining Across Services (Jun 10, 2008)
- Taking Spying to a Higher Level; Government Agencies Look For More Ways to Mine Data (Feb 25, 2006)
- Why the Social Security Was Never What It Appeared
- What Price Freedom? How Data Mining Affects Our Privacy and Potentially Our Freedom
- Uproar Over U.S. Phone Call Database – Tracking the Individual User (May 12, 2006)
- Total Information Awareness for Whom? TIA and FIA Requests (May 23, 2006)
- Total Information Awareness Lives On – What TIA is and how it survived (Feb 25, 2006)
- U.S. Plans Massive Data Sweep – Government Data Mining System Implemented (Feb 09, 2006)
- Total Information Awareness Disguised and Alive (Feb 22, 2004)
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on DATA MINING:
- What is Datamining – explains how Data Mining works and some of the many uses for it
- An Introduction to Data Mining – how businesses use it to predict sales trends
- Data Mining Techniques – how datamining systems are designed
PERSONAL INFORMATION IN DATABASES COMPROMISED:
- US Search Agrees to Quit Selling Private Credit Data (May 22, 2008)
- United States Agriculture Department Leaves Social Security Numbers Publicly Displayed for Years (Apr 21, 2007)
- USDA Exposed Personal Data (Apr 21, 2007)
USES of SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS:
- Sample Guideline for Using Social Security Numbers
- Use of Social Security Number to Obtain Insurance Quote
- Secrets of the Social Security Number
- Are Businesses Required to Obtain Your SSN Number?
ADDITIONAL REFERENCE RESOURCES ON SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
- Social Security Number FAQ – Answers to frequently asked questions about social security numbers
- My Social Security Number – How Secure Is It?