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INTERNET PRIVACY CONCERN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010
Contact: AARON SADLER
aaron.sadler@arkansasag.gov

An Internet site that aggregates personal information from public sources is causing privacy concerns for consumers across the country. Spokeo.com displays personal information many people are not comfortable with being publicly available on a widely accessible search site. It is one of many similar web sites. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel reminds Arkansans today of the importance in protecting your privacy on the Internet.

Spokeo.com publishes data, including such personal information as an email address, full name, phone number, names of family members and photographs for free. For an additional fee, site users can access home addresses and even aerial photographs of private residences.

"Much of the information posted on web sites such as Spokeo.com is obtained from public sources such as courthouse records. This information is, and always has been public information available to all," McDaniel said. "The difference with these web sites is that information from a variety of disparate sources is aggregated, collated, and presented in one place. It's like pieces of a puzzle put together. The result is that consumers enjoy less privacy, and that is understandably shocking."

According to Spokeo's privacy policy, all data collected is publicly accessible from outside, original sources. The aggregator matches information it gathers from social networking sites, phone books, real estate listings and other online databases with an e-mail address. It then sells the compiled information to interested parties

While Spokeo does provide personal information on individual consumers, their site is only as reliable as an original information source. Spokeo claims that it does not display original information nor provide social security numbers, bank account information or any other information not already publicly available.
For further protection, utilize the following tips for increased Internet privacy.


    •Make sure a Web site is secure before you input any personal or financial information. A secure Web site is denoted by "https" in the address line or a golden lock icon on the page.
    •Review site's privacy policies. Before you provide any information to a site, read its privacy policy. Every reputable site should post one on the home page. The policy should state what information is collected, how it's used, how it's protected, who has access to it, and if it's sold or shared with third parties. If no policy is available, think twice about providing personal information
    •If you find your Social Security Number posted on a public site, report that to the Attorney General's Office. Arkansas law prohibits such public postings.
    •If you fear that may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Attorney General's Office for assistance.


For further information on other consumer matters, contact the Public Protection Department of the Attorney General's Office at Suite 200, 323 Center Street, Little Rock, AR 72201. The office can be reached by calling (501) 682-2341 (Little Rock) or 1-800-482-8982. Spanish-speaking consumers can also call (501) 683-3130. TDD service is available for the hearing impaired at 682-6073. The address on the World Wide Web is www.ArkansasAg.gov.

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