Spokeo: Protection Racket, or just Doucheracket?

So, I’m reading teh Boing Boing the other day, and they have this article about Spokeo, which I assume is having a burst of coverage right now because its founder, Harrison Tang, was just elected Grand Sucktard of Douchebekistan.

This is a “service” where you can type in your name (or presumably the name of someone you want to rob, terrorize, and/or murder), and it will show you a satellite image of their house, along with a bunch of personal information about things like number of children and estimated wealth.

Just how much of a wankwad is this Tang dude? As Boing Boing point out, “Tellingly, Mr. Tang opted out of his own site over privacy concerns.”

A full set of instructions on how to opt yourself out can be found here. I clicked on the privacy button, and was greeted by the statement that “Spokeo cares about data privacy.” You can then have yourself removed from Spokeo’s public searches (although presumably not from their database) “for free.”

BUT, they are quick to point out, YOUR PRIVACY IS STILL AT RISK!!1!11! Your information will still be available through other sites, and you will have to contact them “one-by one . . . to protect your online identity.”

Fortunately, the heroes at Spokeo have “partnered with” the company “Reputation Defender,” which will protect your online identity for a modest fee. What I’m wondering is, what’s the deal with that? Is that Spokeo’s actual business model? How is this any different from having the guy who threatens your family “partner with” Vito Corleone?

I’m not breaking any news here. I just wanted to post something because I thought that the protection-racket aspect of this whole thing did not receive enough emphasis in the article by Boing Boing’s Xeni. Not a complaint, as that article had a somewhat broader point, and is a great read for anyone interested in online privacy issues.

Also, I had about a million HILARIOUS ways to misspell “Harrison Tang”, but then decided to spare you.

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