How We Think About Privacy

How We Think About Privacy

How We Think About Privacy

In an age of smartphones, social networks, and digital records, it’s hard to imagine exactly how much data is being created and shared across the Internet. According to one estimate, every 60 seconds Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content, while Google receives over 2 million search queries.

Clearly, access to data has transformed how people communicate and connect. Now it’s transforming how we build trust with each other as well. Whether we realize it or not, we constantly use data to make decisions about trust, from verifying an eBay seller’s credibility to deciding whether to go on a date with someone based on their online profile.

Historically, using public records data was expensive, tedious, and slow. Now, people search engines like PeopleSmart ( are able to provide access to public records data that used to be inaccessible except in person at a courthouse. Our customers use PeopleSmart to safely and easily connect with others, conduct due diligence for their businesses, or learn more about people they may be connecting with for the first time, such as a date or potential roommate.

What are some privacy challenges with public records?

While public records have existed for generations, the ability to search and analyze billions of those records almost instantaneously is a very recent development. As a consequence, laws and regulations have not always caught up with technical advancements. This makes it very important for companies to be thoughtful in their stewardship of the information, following recommended frameworks and guiding.

Furthermore, public records are created by people, and people sometimes make mistakes. Worse, cases of identity theft can lead to malicious false profiles being created and published. In other words, public record data is imperfect. Problems like these create an additional challenge when searching through billions of public records to correctly identify the ones you’re looking for.

How does PeopleSmart work to protect your privacy?

Think of PeopleSmart like a phonebook or contact directory. You wouldn’t expect to find someone’s religious or political preferences in the phonebook, and you won’t find them here on PeopleSmart either. That’s because we don’t sell or disclose salary, religious, or political data about anyone.

Our goal is to help our users safely connect with each other in ways that they can control. That means we don’t publish cell phone numbers, and have an email relay system so that your full email address is never exposed when people want to contact you. In addition, we proactively suppress information about celebrities, public figures, and potentially vulnerable individuals.

We care about data ethics: in other words, making sure that data is used the right way. That’s why we do not scrape social network data and put controls in place to make sure our customers aren’t using our products improperly. In addition, we do not allow bulk access to our data for marketing purposes.

Lastly, we’re constantly working to improve our privacy management tools. That means you can easily control how your information appears in PeopleSmart, or remove your listing entirely. While our data comes from public records and other publicly available information, you have the right to choose whether others can look you up through PeopleSmart. Opting out is free, and always will be.

If you have any questions or concerns about your privacy, please contact the PeopleSmart Privacy Team.