JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: re saying where you are #general


Stan Goodman <SPAM_FOILER@...>
 

On Mon, 30 Jan 2006 05:06:53 UTC, tulse04-news@yahoo.co.uk (Nick)
opined:

"Stan Goodman" < SPAM_FOILER@hashkedim.com > wrote

I don't think anyone who has contributed to this thread had in mind
that "saying where you are" means giving your complete address. What
we have been saying is that it is helpful to say that you are e.g. in
New York, California, Southern England, or Ultima Thule. It is very
difficult to see how such limited placement can contribute
meaningfully to identity theft or any other nefarious plan, or how it
can jeopardize the personal safety of even the most fastidiously
private individual, male or female.

Indeed, unless one has a very, very unusual name, the identification
of the nearest large city to one's residence is of no help to a
potential identity thief or stalker. Something like "Faye Levy of
Chicago" (a name and city I just pulled out of the virtual hat of my
imagination) would narrow your ID down to thousands. The fact is that
most identity theft is done >from information available publicly, not
from the kind of information that the JewishGen moderator would
conceivably pass for publication.
Actually taking your example using http://www.infobel.com/usa/ there are no
Faye Levy's in Chicago and there is just one in New York.
That's because all the others are married, and most US telephone
directories routinely list only the head of the household. I guarantee
that there are many, many more. In retrospect, I can see that I should
have chosen a masculine name as an example.

I don't know what percentage of US telephone subscribers are ex-directory,
but this clearly only relates to those subscribers actually on the database.
Does "ex-directory" mean "unlisted number"? Mine is unlisted; it's my
way of avoiding telemarketters. That's an entirely different problem.

I have looked at the London on-line phone directory.

I have taken the most popular name, Smith, and chosen the initial L.

There are about 200 L Smith's.

In the London directory, unlike the US directory, only initials are used
rather than first names.

With the addition of first names, I would suggest that even with such a
popular name as Smith there would be a wide range of first names, and
therefore it would one would obtain few names of Smith plus a particular
first name.

It therefore seems to me that it would be quite easy to identify a
particular person >from the phone database, even in a large city - without
knowing their actual address.
If someone writes, as I suggested, "I live in Southern England", or
"the closest large city is London", do you think it is that same as
saying "I live in London"?

But the bottom line is that anybody really nervous about revealing his
existence doesn't have to specify even the planet on which he resides.
He can decide whether it is worthwhile to pay the price (if any) of
that reluctance or to take the plunge.

I remember that when I lived in Washington, there were three other
Stan Goodmans in the telephone directory, many more SGoodmans; it's
hard for me to believe that there are only 200 LSmiths in London, but
I myself would feel perfectly safe, even insulated, among 200,
especially with the additional protection provided by the
initials-only policy.

A. P. Chekhov, by the way, wrote an entertaining and instructive short
story about this sort of thing. It's off-topic, so I won't discuss it
here.

--
Stan Goodman, Qiryat Tiv'on, Israel

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