Related link: http://www.zabasearch.com
Anyone reading this post probably already knows about ZabaSearch, but just in case you don’t, click on the link and look yourself up on it. Then when you’re done looking yourself up, try to look up some friends or family. And if you wonder where they live, go on over to Google Local, and type in their address. Be sure to choose the satellite photo option if you want to get a better view of the neighborhood.
If this is the first time you’ve put those concepts together, you might be in a state of shock and amazement. Phrases like “invasion of privacy” might be running through your head. But are either of the sites really a threat to your privacy at all? I guess it depends on how you define the term — and I’ll leave that for you to determine — but at least someone out there is probably outraged about all of this.
ZabaSearch is basically a public information search engine. They hail what they call “data democratization”, which basically means that if there’s public information out there about you, then you have access to it — but so does everyone else. They’re just facilitating the process.
For example, you can feel free to go to your local county courthouse and look up records that are publicly available to discover who owns particular properties, who has recently been in court, etc. — and along the way, you’ll stumble across addresses, the names of spouses or children, and all sorts of other goodies. Some companies do nothing but harvest this information so they can sell it to solicitors and make a few bucks. So ZabaSearch doesn’t generate any data about you that’s not already out there in one form or another, it just provides a one-stop shop for accessing it all. Before you decide to dedicate your life to the eradication of ZabaSearch, check here for some interesting reading from a legal perspective on what can be done when data democratization verges on privacy invasion.
So what’s all of the fuss about? Does ZabaSearch really give us something that a Yahoo! People Search hasn’t been for years? Or is it the momentum and the scare of where this could go that’s getting people all riled up?
Since I mentioned Google Local earlier, I’ll throw out another quandary for you. If there were publicly available commercial satellites that could give you great resolution within a meter or so in almost real time, could that system possibly constitute an invasion of privacy? Let’s assume that the system would be affordable enough that anyone could just sit on their computer and “browse the world” (assuming good weather.)
Very cool, right? That person with the big fence around their home that acts so secretive all of the time — well, you’d be able to get in on the secrets in no time. Want to know how close the pizza delivery person is to your house? Just take a peek at your neighborhood when you’re expecting them. Cops could pursue criminals as they flee just like on Enemy of the State and the paparazzi wouldn’t have as many problems chasing the celebrities anymore.
But the ease of it all would provide criminals (or perverts) with a lot of leverage too. Want to rob a house when the family goes out for dinner? No need to case the joint in your car across the street anymore. Just watch from your computer screen and then trot on over after they leave for dinner one night. Have a pal watch the place and give you a heads up when they’re coming back so that you don’t get caught.
So is it cool or scary? Where do you draw the line with this stuff?