Even the simplest internet privacy system is ineffective if people don’t realize they should use it. Maybe if people know just how easily accessible their online data is, they will make the effort to protect themselves.
So when participating in Hacklanta, the Atlanta Hackathon, over Memorial Day weekend, in which the theme was “Information Privacy: Keep It Simple Stupid", I decided to go one step above the theme and plainly expose privacy issues to everyone.
NotSoPrivate.net lets users enter simple, seemingly harmless information like their email address, twitter handle, or phone number. It then extrapolates that information, pulling from a variety of different sources, cross-referencing, and doing other interesting things, to present to the user a complete picture of their privacy situation… or lack thereof.
It loads and refines in real-time. And it provides actionable information: users can click any piece of data to see where it was retrieved. This helps users start to plug their privacy leaks. But most importantly, it helps users realize they have a real problem… and thus spurs them to think more seriously about their online privacy.
It is also notable because it’s the first Node.js application I’ve written. In addition, I tried a new real-time data backend called Firebase. So in the span of 24 hours I learned and new language, a new data backend, and even took time to have an intense Nerf gunfight.
And it all paid off: after an energized presentation, the judges (a who’s who of Atlanta tech startup awesomeness) voted NotSoPrivate.net the 1st place winner!
In the weeks since then, I have been tweaking and improving the site, and I’m still going. There are some performance and usability issues to iron out, and I’m adding more and more data sources to increase its power. I’m getting data from all sorts of places most people wouldn’t even think of, including Last.fm (gender, age, etc), Flickr (relationship, employer, etc), YouTube (age, school, etc), Gravatar (phone, email, etc), and more. And I’ve barely scratched the surface. There’s so much more accessible data out there.
And keep in mind that NotSoPrivate.net uses only publically available data sources. There’s no funny business, hacking, or anything illegal going on. Any information it finds could have been found by your jealous stalker ex as well, my site simply makes it more obvious what’s available and where it’s coming from so you can plug the leaks in your online identity.
The first step to better online privacy is admitting you have a problem. Discover your current online footprint with NotSoPrivate.net.
Some examples for your ease of clicking pleasure:
Paul Tarjan, an ex-Yahoo and current Facebook hacker extraordinaire
Enrique Santos, a former classmate at GA Tech
Robert Carpenter, another former classmate
Beau Lebens, a developer of Gravatar and WordPress
Try a test of the new version, check out Urvaksh Karkaria, Technology Writer at Atlanta Business Chronicle.