Why does my personal information show up on your web site and all these other web sites, and how do I get my information removed from the internet and other public records web sites.
In the United States just about any personal information you provide on a form, application, public document, voter registration, retail store rewards card, sweepstakes entry, magazine subscription, court records, and even marriage & divorce records plus a growing number of other types of data are considered public records.
Public records are documents or pieces of information that are not considered confidential. The Freedom of information legislation aka Freedom of Information Act comprises laws that guarantee access to data held by the state. They establish a “right-to-know” legal process by which requests may be made for government-held information, to be received freely or at minimal cost, barring standard exceptions. Also variously referred to as open records or (especially in the United States) sunshine laws, governments are also typically bound by a duty to publish and promote openness. The U.S government has access to billions of records, many of which are considered public.
Online Information websites sell (or give freely) the personal information of individuals typically obtained from public records (as indicated above) as well as premium or proprietary records obtained from third party data aggregators. These data aggregators obtain data from thousands of sources and can include a myriad of personal information
These online information brokers (also known as data brokers or data vendors) gather personal information from many sources including white pages listings (directory assistance), publicly-available sources and public records. Some information brokers also offer the ability to conduct social searches which gather information by searching public profiles on social networking sites and from various other internet sites where data is readily available.
The practice of locating information in published white pages and public records and re-displaying them on our web site is not illegal; there are hundreds of data broker web sites you can visit. Some include opt-out instructions. Since we may obtain records from some of the companies listed, removing yourself from those vendors may reduce your exposure on our site and many others.
Here is more information regarding data brokers: http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/infobrokers.htm
SearchBug does not have a public records database in house. We offer a way to block listings from showing up in our our version of a whitepages listing which can get updated periodically via 3rd party service providers. Individuals are free to check back and remove whitepage listings whenever they appear. To block your listings in Searchbug click on help and then click on “People Finder”.
Unfortunately, we have no way to remove individuals from public records or premium listings since we don’t own or store that data. We only have a method in which we can block specific records from showing up on Searchbug. This is a manual process for specific records. We cannot block all records for a name or use wildcards to block records as our system does not work that way.
SearchBug online data is an “as-is” representation of these underlying records. Therefore, we are unable to guarantee the accuracy nor are we able to add, update or remove information at the original source. However, we can block your records from appearing in SearchBug Premium results.
What this means is that your name as it appears in a particular record and the associated identifying information such as your address and phone number will be Blocked from view if you request this in the manner described below.
In order for us to block your information from being view able on the searchbug.com website, we have developed a way for your information to be excluded in the FREE listings (similar to being unlisted in the phone book, which typically costs a fee). We do not charge any fee for you to remove yourself from the free listings.
There is a fee to exclude your listings from showing up in the preview and results from Premium records. This fee defrays the administrative costs, development costs and maintenance of the removal process. Without this administrative fee we would be unable to develop and maintain the blocking of listings.
The process of blocking information from showing up on the internet is not required by law. It is the option of the web site operator. This process takes resources (eg. employees) which must be paid for. We don’t believe in raising the prices of our regular services to offset the costs of blocking records of individuals that prefer to hide their information. The costs of administering the blocking process is therefor passed onto the individuals that wish to have their information blocked. Keep in mind that public records can be obtained at any County Office (including deeds, criminal and civil records, and much more).
As far as the legality of showing records online the only legislation regarding public records is the California Legislation which grants Public officials the right to have their personal information blocked. A Public official is defined in California Government Code Sections 6254.21 and 6254.24.
For purposes of this section, “elected or appointed official” includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) State constitutional officers.
(2) Members of the Legislature.
(3) Judges and court commissioners.
(4) District attorneys.
(5) Public defenders.
(6) Members of a city council.
(7) Members of a board of supervisors.
(8) Appointees of the Governor.
(9) Appointees of the Legislature.
(11) City attorneys.
(12) Police chiefs and sheriffs.
(13) A public safety official, as defined in Section 6254.24.
(14) State administrative law judges.
(15) Federal judges and federal defenders.
(16) Members of the United States Congress and appointees of the President.
(17) Sworn and non-sworn employees of a city police department, a county sheriff’s office, the Department of the California Highway Patrol, federal, state, and local detention facilities, and local juvenile halls, camps, ranches, and homes, who submit agency verification that, in the normal course of their employment, they control or supervise inmates or are required to have a prisoner in their care or custody.
If you are a California Public Official as described above please use this opt-out form.