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Book details of 'Naked in Cyberspace: How to Find Personal Information Online'

Cover of Naked in Cyberspace: How to Find Personal Information Online
TitleNaked in Cyberspace: How to Find Personal Information Online
Author(s)Carole A. Lane, Helen Burwell, Owen Davies
PublishedNovember 1996
PublisherInformation Today Inc
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The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'Naked in Cyberspace: How to Find Personal Information Online':

Reviewer wrote:
What can you find out online about others? What can anyone find out about you? Quite a lot. Carole Lane shows you both how and why in this encyclopedic book. Naked in Cyberspace reveals the personal records available on the Net and demonstrates both how they are used and how to use them. Lane further examines the issue of Net privacy, noting what information is not available to the average searcher and discussing what safeguards protect you from unwarranted intrusion. This is an important work for anyone who values both privacy and information.

Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
Those reading the title (and the promotional reviews in many magazines) might be forgiven for thinking this was an examination of the state of privacy or personal information online. Those who get to the subtitle will probably think that this will tell you how to find personal information on the net. The second group will be a lot closer than the first, but won't really be correct either. Part one is a kind of general introduction to the topic: basically it seems to be a kind of promotional brochure. Chapter one states that information can be valuable (surprise), that information can be accessed in various ways via computers (double surprise), and gives a kind of randomized table of contents for the book. One point to be made is that the text seems to hold "cyberspace" and "online" as synonymous with "involves a computer," since chapter two starts talking about searching databases by emphasizing the importance of the speed of your computer. It goes on to talk about CD-ROMs, give a minimalist description of boolean logic, pass briefly over the fact that computer databases may contain mistakes (many estimates suggest that a quarter to a third of all such records are in error), and finishes by extolling the virtues of information brokers. The author is obviously not comfortable with searching for information on the Internet: we are told of all kinds of trivial information (nothing important) that can be found on the net, but never how, in chapter three. Chapter four suggests that you can find information about people from proprietary databases, and finishes with a hard-hitting, in-depth investigation of Ross Perot--using the information found on his promotional Web site! The obligation to talk about privacy is given a token nod in chapter five, which primarily emphasizes the fact that information obtainable via computer could be obtained other ways so don't gimme no grief about this book, OK? Part two looks at what you might use record searching for. Chapter six looks at finding people, but almost as soon as it starts it admits that the options in this category are too many, and that it can only give you a random, and extremely limited, sampling. Pre-employment screening is discussed in chapter seven, but almost none of it relates to computer accessible records at all. Recruiting is limited to searching online (and usually commercial) resume banks in chapter eight. The job related newsgroups aren't mentioned at all, and there is no talk of using topical searches to find specialist skills. Tenant screening is limited to credit referencing (which it doesn't tell you how to do) in chapter nine. Chapter ten lists some proprietary databases where you might be able to find out about assets, and has a much longer section dealing with assets that you won't be able to find. "Competitive Intelligence" (aka "industrial espionage"?) again has nothing to say about computers (and very little to say at all) in chapter eleven. (Appropriate number, don't you think?) There are some proprietary databases, and even some publicly available resources, in chapter twelve for finding experts in different fields, although, again, only a tiny sample. How to find rich people to hit up for charity is minuscule in chapter thirteen. The review of private investigation doesn't give you any resources beyond how to contact PI professional groups. Part three looks at types of personal records. These include chapters on biographies, general indices, telephone directories, staff and professional directories, mailing lists, news, photographic images, quotations, bank records, credit and financial records, consumer credit records, criminal justice records, motor vehicles, death, tax records, medical and insurance records, public records, adoption, celebrity, genealogical records, political records, and demographic records. Most of the information is contained in proprietary databases, and much of it is not available via computer at all, let alone online. The best chapter, in terms of comprehensive and useful guidance combined with accessible data, is on genealogy. The remainder of the book is essentially appendices, listing related books, periodicals, organizations, and databases. Basically, this work spends a lot of time suggesting that you *can* find information out about people, and doesn't put much effort into telling you how you can. There is a heavy reliance on commercial information services, and, as noted, not all of the information sources are available to you from home, let alone via the Internet. A great deal of data relating to the topics covered *can* be found on the Internet, but the author does not appear to be aware of that. If you want to set yourself up as an information broker, this text might get you started. The contact information for the various database sources is useful, although you can find the same at your local library. Which may be available online. copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998

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