Have you ever googled yourself? Maybe that’s narcissistic, but I prefer the term curious. Your Twitter profile may come up, but your search might also uncover 192.com – a website listing much of your personal data.
Mine did. In fact, take out the social media profiles, and it was the first Google result. And once I clicked on 192.com, it came up with six results for little old me – including addresses, other occupants of the property I lived in, and the year I was on the Electoral Roll – all in a handy spreadsheet.
Granted, not all the results for my name were actually me, but the search tool is flexible, and can be refined, such as by other household occupants or age range.
In fact, 192.com boasts that it gives you a complete profile of any person found on its site. A typical free profile includes ‘full name, current address, age guide, phone number (where available), property prices and even an aerial photo of their house’.
Interested in the other residents of their property, or neighbours? Or how much they paid for their house? Pay for premium content, from as little as 25p per search, and you can find all of this out – and more.
Where did 192.com get your data?
The information comes from various public data sources, including the Electoral Roll, Directory Enquiries and Directors Database. If you wish to opt-out of 192.com publishing your name and address, you can print out an online PDF and send it to the company.
However, this opt-out service gives you only two options – either sending a letter or a fax. Personally, I haven’t faxed something since my work experience days eight years ago – so it doesn’t appear the most user-friendly way. Why can’t you send them an email?
Taking data from the Electoral Roll and using it this way is the business model many marketing companies and online directories (like 192.com) use. And they’re allowed to use it legally. But should the personal data they hold be available quite so freely for anybody to see and buy?
Did you give 192.com your consent?
But how exactly does it have your consent? I, for one, do not remember giving mine – and I didn’t know it held so many details about me until I started browsing the site in more depth.
Our legal expert Georgina Nelson had this to say about 192.com:
‘The traditional idea of the Yellow Pages – which a few years ago might have provided a person’s name, address and number – seems to have ratcheted up a key or two, and the business model of online directories like 192.com is in providing “value and depth” in data over and above these expectations.
‘Yet, how far will these companies go in their hunt for our personal details? What will they get their hands on in the future? And is there anything to really stop them publishing them online for the world to see?’
Have you heard of 192.com before, and now you know it exists, do you think it’s right that this website is allowed to display your personal data in such detail?