Sponsored by Americans For Open Records (AmFOR), Member of Amnesty International
privacy – (the state of not being seen by others)
confidentiality – (unaccountable)
secrecy – (1- concealment; the condition of being secret or hidden; 2- the habit of keeping secrets)
These definitions are from Webster's Dictionary. When these terms are used in "privacy laws" and "confidentiality" policies, against the wishes of the person being "protected," or to withhold a record from the person named in the record, one must understand WHO is actually protected or unaccountable.
While Congress acknowledges that Americans want to keep their private information private, federal and state laws compel Americans to disclose their private residence addresses, Social Security numbers, phone records, credit records, medical records, driving records, bankruptcies, criminal records, credit information, property records and much more – and such information is available to anyone for free or if you have the money to purchase it.
Serial killers and bill collectors alike need only to “Google you” or to Click on WhitePages.com to find not only your residence address and phone number but also many listings will include your age, employment, names of others in household...and even a map to your home!
UPS is the largest delivery service in the world (In 2008, UPS delivered 3.9 billion items, worldwide.) Many shippers know that UPS cannot deliver an item to a PO Box as UPS has no way of leaving a package or notice in your box without key and the US Postal Service (USPS) requires postage for deliveries to a PO Box. But few people know that UPS not only retains your residence address in their data bank forever, or until a package bearing your new residence address goes through their system. A woman who lives in a town of 300 people has all her mail go to a post office box. It's REQUIRED for every citizen in Dante, Virginia, to have a post office box and to use it as their address. However, her “UPS shipping address” is: "Third House on Rte 1420." Yes! Bizarre as it seems , everyone has a UPS residence shipping address. If you don't know yours, simply call your local United Parcel Service and find out what it is. UPS also sells mailboxes with street addresses - in other words, a “drop box” that gives the false impression of a residence address and appearance of legitimacy and accessibility. But suppose you’ve moved? How many know that UPS drivers divert any item that is addressed in error to your PO Box to your “last known” residence address as shown in their data bank – without notifying you nor obtaining your permission, instead of returning it to sender. Neither will UPS accept your change of address by phone. Neither will stores that accept your package for UPS shipping take a package that you want to “refuse and return to sender” – a UPS driver must pick it up at the same place where it was delivered. Okay, but what if it was delivered to your old address that is now a vacant home for sale and you have no way of knowing the Tracking number? It happens. And when you purchase something on Internet via a middle-man company such as Underbid.com, they cannot tell you in advance whether the actual supplier will be shipping the item to you by UPS, USPS or FedEx and often the actual supplier won’t respond to an email requesting a Tracking Number if any. As far as UPS is concerned, it’s your loss.
Need a residence address or phone number not listed in your local public directory nor on WhitePages.com? PeopleSearch.com, for instance, will sell you unlisted addresses, many with unlisted phone numbers - $1.95 for a one-time list of same names, or obtain an unlimited number of addresses for any names for a subscription fee. There are others.
Under the “paperless bank statement” law, banks, including the financial giant, CHASE, no longer provide your original check with your bank statement, offering instead online banking with images of your cleared checks. However, neither are banks required to save your paper check for any period of time, but instead destroy it after scanning. This presents a problem when the front and/or back of a check is missed by the scanner, not only because one then has no proof of when the check was deposited by the payee in the event of a dispute over a late rent payment or bill payment, but also in case of fraud. Yet when you bank online, you’ll notice an increase in Spam and “phishing” emails – How does the hoaxter know you banked at Bank of America in order to get you to open and reply to his email requiring that you supply your password and other information? Either the hoaxter extracted your browsing history or you neglected to “uncheck” and “opt out” of permission for your bank to sell a list of its customers to advertisers who in turn sell their lists to anyone who will pay.
California and some other states won’t provide a vehicle’s history, BEFORE buying a "lemon" yet you can get such information, free, from a private party or dealer. Ask the Seller to provide you with the "CARFAX" at no charge (a dealer usually will do so), or you can check the vehicle history online at http://CarFax.com for a fee. You’ll need the Vehicle Identification (VIN) which is usually visible through the windshield on the driver's side of the dash. But if you want someone's driving record in California, that state's anti-stalking law prohibits it.
A person may not register to vote without giving a residence address (which becomes a public record) unless the residence address has been exempted from the public records by the Legislature.
Excerpted from Los Angeles Times Editorial (12/12/09): This week, Facebook finally implemented the privacy enhancements it promised several months ago. And oddly enough, the world now knows more, not less, about many of the social network’s 350 million users… the change may have the welcome effect of opening users' eyes to the reality of their relationship with Facebook. Simply put, it's not their friend. …even as it gave them more control over some items, Facebook took away users' ability to conceal certain data from prying eyes – or, more likely, advertisers. It created a category, dubbed "publicly available information," that is beyond users’ control. The category includes a person's name, picture and city, the list of their Facebook friends and the Facebook pages they have endorsed. The friends list is particularly sensitive, privacy advocates note, because of the amount of personal information that can be gleaned from knowing a person’s associates.…
Why would Facebook do such things? Because it's a business, and key elements of that business are attracting traffic and trading in at least some of the information users disclose. In fact, even as the company rolled out its new privacy tools, it prodded people to change their privacy settings to expose their personal information and posts to the entire Internet. Unless they reject the new default settings imposed by Facebook, everything they say on the network and much of their information will be available to anyone searching through Google, Yahoo or other search engines.
While most Americans’ privacy is no longer private, federal and state laws prohibit some Americans from obtaining their own records. Invoking federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law to obtain federally held records, and State FOIA (in states that have such a law) for access to state-held records, may produce them for a copy fee. Even adult adoptees and their “birth” families, whose identities have been kept under seal of secrecy by state law, can ransom each other’s name and whereabouts for a fee via a national network of adoption searchers. AmFOR has, since 1989, discovered names and contact information and provided such information, without fee, to the consenting parties exercising their “right to know” such information, and we’ve done it by circumventing sealed records laws without ever opening a sealed record nor breaking any law, while published editions of “THE ULTIMATE SEARCH BOOK 2011 – Worldwide Adoption, Genealogy & Other Secrets” by Lori Carangelo filled bookstores and public library shelves.