I got an interesting heads-up re: internet privacy this weekend from my ol' pal, former Bostonite & current Cali-phile Nancy Q:
Google has implemented a new feature wherein you can type someone's telephone number into the search box. Google will then give you the name and address of the telephone number's owner and the option of creating a map to their house. Before forwarding this, I tested it by typing my telephone number into www.google.com. My number is unlisted in the telephone directory and therefore did not come up. However, I then typed in a friends telephone number and her name and address came up, and when I clicked on the MapQuest link, it actually mapped out where she lives. In today's less friendly world of identity theft this is worthy of concern, especially for those with small children who are so proud of themselves for knowing their telephone number. If a child, single person or ANYONE gives out his/her phone number, someone can actually now look it up to find out where he/she lives. MapQuest will put a star where your house is located on the map that is created. This is not a hoax, but basically an on-line reverse directory.
In order to test whether your phone number is indexed, go to www.google.com. Type your phone number in the search bar with dashes (i.e. 888-555-1212) (the dashes are very important) and then hit enter. This will divulge your name and address. You will see a link option to the right for Mapquest. Click on it and Mapquest will use the address to provide a map to your home or place of business. If you want to request that Google not divulge your private information simply click on "Phonebook Results" above your name and phone number. On the next screen click on "Phonebook Removal Form" When the form comes up fill it out and click on "submit". It takes approximately 48-hours for the removal to take place. If you have an unlisted telephone number that is not in the phone book, you probably have not been indexed by Google, but it is a good idea just to check.
I tried it, and it's for real. If that sets your american paranoia off, you might want to do something about it.
Weekend re-cap on the way...