Net Detective by PastGallo

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									Privacy And The Internet, Part I Detect Net Detective

There is a considerable amount of apprehension today about privacy on the “Wild West”
of the Internet. This two-part story will analyze some key areas of privacy. The first part
will analyze and report on investigative software that claims to be able find out anything
on anyone. The second part will analyze laws and your rights in regards to resources that
may report private details of your life.

Let’s start with personal investigate software. Two programs come to mind. Cyber
Detective (ver. 8) and Net Detective (ver. 8.2), strangely both software products are made
by the same company Harris Digital Publishing Group and are exact clones of each other.
Chances are good you have been rudely acquainted to either of these programs; because
they are a favorite of junk e-mailers. Big flashy investigative claims include, “Check out
new and old ROMANTIC interests”, “Dig up the dirt on your BOSS”, “co-workers, or
neighbors”, “Verify EMPLOYMENT applications”, “criminal records”, “credit checks”,
“medical records”, “FAST, FUN, AND EASY-TO-USE.” Tempting yet scary, faced
with these software claims, an average person might conclude not only is “Big Brother”
watching, he is selling what he knows for $29.99 to anyone.

I decided to download and install Net Detective. The reason that I didn’t evaluate Cyber
Detective is because it was too difficult locating a Web site selling Cyber Detective that I
trusted enough to hand over my credit card number to. On a side note, never give a credit
card number to a Web site, unless the site is legitimate, i.e. verifiable Name, address, and
a phone number that is answered by someone other than Joe’s Pizzeria in North Dakota.
Back on track, I downloaded Net Detective for $30, cheap for software that touts so many
personal investigative features.

Here is the hypothetical business scenario, I have decided to open a lemonade stand and I
wish to run background checks on my potential employees. No criminal records, no
financial dark horses, no health issues. I will use Net Detective to investigate my
potential employees because; Net Detective advertises “FAST, FUN, AND EASY-TO-
USE.”

The main screen of Net Detective is basically a glorified Web browser, you will need an
online connection for Net Detective to function. Main categories are comprised of
People Wizard, Background Wizard, Search, Specialty Search Engine, Search History,
International, Invisible Web, Launch Case Log, Offline Resources, Member Site,
Professional Tips, and Tools.

Lets start with the first employee, myself (I would like to know if I have a criminal record
and can’t be trusted at my own lemonade stand.) I click on research criminal records,
under the Search category. The only information Net Detective has provided here is a list
of crime related Web sites, and suggestions on how to do an old fashioned paper search
of public records by visiting court houses. Second investigative criteria, under
background wizard then credit check, once again the only information Net Detective
provides me is a list of related Web sites. The final criteria is health records, and once
again Net Detective places me at a dead end of a list of Web sites that may or may not
answer my health questions, which I will have to sift through.

Overall it appears that 90% of the information that I am interested in, is not in Net
Detective at all. Net Detective only provides guideposts to sites on the Internet. Even
though, many of these sites such as www.qspace.com (credit reports) are what they
claim, overall Net Detective misleads the potential buyer of this software. You will have
to spend a lot of time on your own panning through Web sites, with no help from Net
Detective, that may or may not reveal nuggets of useful information. You might as well
just hire a detective agency.

In Part II of Privacy on the Internet, I will discuss a credit reporting Web site, and a site
related to insurance/medical records. I will also discuss laws and your rights in regards to
resources that may report private details of your life.

Andrew Ohrman (techtips@paonline.com) is a freelance writer based in Middletown, Pa.
His computer writing is based on his experience as a software developer, instructor, and
general PC/network technician.

See graphics below:




Caption: Seen this ad in your junk e-mail?
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Caption: None
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Caption: Net detective user interface
Resolution 300 dpi

								
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