mage67 (mage67) wrote,

Can you hide your personal information on the web?

A client was surprised that I could legally find out a lot of personal information about him on the web. Without paying a penny, I found his address, phone number and even his age. In fact if I wanted his financial profile and any legal information trail on him, I could get that too easily (however it might cost me a small fee)

He asked me if there is anyway to legally stop people from looking up such personal information? After researching this, I saw that there were very few options here. These are the conclusions I found that are legal.

1. You can get a court or executive order to seal your records. Even if this could somehow be justified, it still wouldn't stop past leaks. Usually this can only be justified under an extreme situation, and the odds of even a clever lawyer getting this done are probably against it. Usually this can only be justified if it can be shown that your very life depends on blocking future leaks. Even if this is done, it's not at all foolproof.
2. Even the director of the FBI can't stop his information from spreading on the web. It's just in too many places and there seems to be no way to block them all.
3. You can legally change your identity. You can even legally create a second identity with a second Social Security number and separate drivers license. This still doesn't stop past leaks. Eventually a information trail will exist on your new identity though. To effectively hide, you'd have to change your identity, move, and change all your contact information (because you can be traced through contact information). There would still be a legal records linking your aliases though and it would still be possible to trace a person through them. This would still not stop past leaks on your old identity.

So the short answer is, if a person is determined to find a lot of information about you, there is nothing you can do about it in general.
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