Privacy for sale

While seated at the computer last week, I searched the internet for information relative to a specific topic. Coincidentally, an individual I’ll simply refer to as “James,” with whom I’d been associated a number of years ago phoned me Thursday afternoon. He then proceeded to explain how he’d been able to locate information concerning more than I, quite honestly, was comfortable with a stranger knowing.

I was compelled to advise James about the accident suffered several years ago that had subsequently resulted with the loss of my memory. Of course, the situation was further complicated by the fact I had no recollection of him, which prompted specification that it made me very uncomfortable for someone to know so much personal information.

James proudly volunteered having looked me up on the internet by way of a “Google” search and, for a nominal fee, being able to acquire a report of virtually every known address at which I’d lived, jobs where I had worked, phone numbers once assigned to me, and even properties I owned. There was even an option to, for an additional fee, purchase a police report of any offenses I may have committed within a specified period. He’d even been able to locate the address and sent, via text, a photo of my house.

There wasn’t much of the conversation with James that I remembered, or even heard, as my focus for the duration of our call had been directed at just how we can live in a country where such accessibility is viewed as acceptable. It was then that realization came as to just how little privacy citizens of this country and the world are allowed.

After the discussion with James wherein he became increasingly frustrated at the fact I couldn’t remember him, in the wake of the newly discovered information, it settled upon me that I didn’t really care. Following a minimal effort on the internet, it became relatively apparent just how much one could extract about a person. Truthfully, the more I searched, the more frustration set in with the understanding that all our lives are literally open for anyone in the world to pillage at a nominal cost.

The Fourth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” It would seem readily apparent that the phrase “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated” as stated in the amendment should mean exactly that. Regardless of what boundaries the internet might dismiss, people of this nation are supposed to be awarded their constitutional right to privacy. Unfortunately, there’s no longer a guarantee as the most personal information is available for purchase by anyone willing to spend the money for it.

It raises the question as to how a company can profit from selling what’s supposed to be personal information but doesn’t offer any sort of compensation to the individual whose privacy they’re peddling? That’s the equivalent of a neighbor taking it upon himself to sell the extra vehicle parked in your driveway but not giving you any of the proceeds.

With the advent of social media, nothing is off limits any longer and privacy appears to have taken a back seat to the general public’s desire to know. Discretion is a thing of the past and there’s a blatant disregard for protecting one’s personal information. Society holds contempt for the barriers once regarded as sacred and openly “mows” down anyone who’d be so bold as to assert their need for privacy.

What used to be acceptable as limitations in everything from news reporting to public behaviors has all but been thrown to the dogs. This comes, in the wake of social media, the internet, people’s desire to be seen in their quest to develop a following and, in turn, get paid.

To pose a question or share your opinion, you can reach B. G. Howard at or P. O. Box 8103, Jacksonville, FL 32239.