Google is full of information about individuals, but when do I have the moral right to look for it and when don't I? I know that within ten minutes, if you live in Iowa and I only have your first and last name I can pull up all of your court records and see what brushes with the law you have had. If you live in Polk County in Iowa I can find out if you own a home, how many bathrooms it has, if you have a swimming pool, what tax credits you are getting on it, and how much it is worth. I can then pull up the sex offender's registry and see if you are on it, or check out whom in your neighborhood is on it. If I have your email address I can search for it in Google groups and find out what topics you like to talk about. Finally I can plug your name into Google and see what else I can find. I did this a few weeks ago on someone and found out their birthday, what church they went to, and that they had recently competed in a triathlon.
Sure I know that I have the legal right to pull this up whenever I want, but when do I have the moral right to? Does a parent have the moral right to Google someone who is watching their kid? Does a coworker have the right to know how many speeding ticket the person in the cube next to them has, or if they have an OWI? Is it alright to Google your blind date before you ever meet them? What about a potential employer finding a MySpace or Twitter page? It has come to the point when you need to be aware of what information is out there about you. I know if you Google me you're going to find sites like Osborn2Rock for the band of a guy in California that has the same name as me, and unfortunately information about a guy who wrote a book about hunting squirrels with dogs. Anybody searching for only my first and last name could potential thinking that any of these hits were me and misjudge me completely. When the information is freely available do we have to make ourselves responsible for using it properly? What do you think?
"With great power comes great responsibility."
The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent
my employer's view in any way.