Blockshopper.com Complaint - Blockshopper Publishing Names and Home Addresses on the Web
This week I've had the unpleasant experience of discovering my name & home address are published on the web, easily accessible through a Google search & particularly via the website www.blockshopper.com After two requests I discovered that this company does not want to remove my name- even though I have described to them that I am the victim of a stalker in the past & have taken great efforts to protect my home address. After further research, I discovered there are a number of similar complaints against Blockshopper.com, & they are refusing those requests as well. Also- please be aware that it is most likely that your name & home address are published on this site as well. I did some random checks on friends and business people, & came up with 100% hits each time. If your name is unusual, as is mine, it pops up very quickly on Google with a link to Blockshopper. If it is more common, one can just go onto the Blockshopper site, choose the city, choose the option of finding property by “Homeowners”, type in a full name or even a last name- & if that person owns property under their name- voila- you now have the home address. There is usually an aerial map photograph, frequently a street photograph, and in many cases a photo of the front of the house! If this property has changed hands in the last few years, also available is the purchase price, & the taxes paid. You’ll notice on the opening pages of the city areas that there are “news stories” about recent sales and purchases. These also are not necessarily authorized stories provided by either seller or buyer. These are data mined and photos are pulled from social networking sites such as Facebook. Again- sellers and buyers have been complaining to this company, to no avail. Their typical response is that the information they are posting is available to anyone through public records. And while this may be technically correct- it’s not that easy to go to any public records site & find out the home address of any given property owner. There are steps that have to be taken, and sometimes fees paid. Blockshopper has now managed to make it available with about 1 minute of research. They have received complaints from people who are victims of various crimes trying to protect their anonymity; mental health workers who don't want patients to have their home address; law enforcement officials and attorneys who don't want their home address published; etc. etc. No matter- they are claiming freedom of speech and use of public records. Interestingly enough- of the four main partners that own and operate this company- only one has their information available on the site! While they are currently focused on some large metropolitan areas, they are planning on expanding their geographical information. A few days ago I spoke with the Attorney General’s office who directed me to write to my legislators. As they described it, these types of Data Brokers are not currently held to any laws preventing them from doing this. I find it amazing that we can opt out of telemarketing lists, catalog mailing lists, and have unlisted phone numbers, but this company isn't held to any similar standard. But if we want it to change we have CONTACT LEGISLATORS!! WRITE, COMPLAIN, AND COMPLAIN SOME MORE- THERE HAS TO BE CITIZEN EFFORT PUSHING OUR LEGISLATORS TO ACTION!