On Privacy – and Public Records

Somehow I think we’ve missed the original point of making certain records public. Here’s something the newspapers (ha, newspapers. remember those? me neither.) have mentioned in an article on how companies learn about you –

Because birth records are usually public, the moment a couple have a new baby, they are almost instantaneously barraged with offers and incentives and advertisements from all sorts of companies.

(Source: NY Times)

Birth records being public, I get. I can see – sort of – a cute, 1950s-era reason for making public the records of birth. Good citizenry, that sort of thing.

I know, I know – hard to believe, but somewhere along the way, the Yooooonited States Corporate Complex became interested in profits, and taking advantage of any available technique, citizenry be damned.

Imagine a neighbor (ha, neighbors. remember those? me neither) anyways imagine a neighbor that combed through public records at the courthouse, discovered you had a baby, and used that information to rush over and try to sell you something. you would, likely, close the door quickly, or call the police, or reach for the mace. anyways, I forget what I was saying. something about it being not nice to comb through public records. or something about how the world is a different place in 20XX than it was in 1891, or whatever the “golden era” of public records was, which I suspect was before the era of being “instantaneously barraged with offers and incentives and advertisements from all sorts of companies.”

the same thing strikes me with whois data on the interweb thingies. in exchange for the cough “privilege” of registered a seven dollar domain name, I am pseudo-required to provide name, phone number, physical address, etc. Tell you what. I’ll start providing that information just the moment everybody stops using it. Thank you. I just wanted to get that off my chest.

By the way, read the article. It’s a fascinating treatise on your habits, as well as on their intersection with the marketers, and more about Febreze than you could ever care to know.

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