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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    Default Warnings on the Use of Information from People Search Sites

    Hello all,

    People search sites display all sorts of warnings stating you can not confront people with the information you have found, you can not sue it against their will - as if you have a reliable way of knowing what their will would be, etc. What is the legal basis underneath such warnings? Do they have legal strength? How do I interpret them?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Warnings on the People Search Type Sites and the Law

    You would read what their warnings or terms of use say, and interpret them based upon their content. The fundamental issue is likely that there are many mismatches in databases due to similar or identical names or addresses, and the sites don't want to be blamed when somebody makes a false accusation or gets arrested for stalking or harassment.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Warnings on the People Search Type Sites and the Law

    There is no legal basis for those warnings, other than maybe CYA for the sites, as Mr K reveals.

    Example: You lend somebody money. When it comes time to pay back, he doesn't. You go after him and he's not at the same address, employer, or phone number as before. You look him up on a people search website and you get lucky and find his current address for the lawsuit.

    If those warnings had any real legal basis the Defendant would be able to get the lawsuit dismissed simply because you used his current address when you weren't supposed to. And that's certainly not going to happen.

    I'm not sure what other information might be at issue because most of those sites are woefully inaccurate and a waste of money if you happen to have spent money looking somebody up.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    7,706

    Default Re: Warnings on the People Search Type Sites and the Law

    Quote Quoting plushevyitigr
    View Post
    Hello all,

    People search sites display all sorts of warnings stating you can not confront people with the information you have found, you can not sue it against their will - as if you have a reliable way of knowing what their will would be, etc. What is the legal basis underneath such warnings? Do they have legal strength? How do I interpret them?

    Thanks in advance.
    Part of the issue with some of these sites is that they operate in more than one country and in some countries there are indeed some restrictions on the use of this sort of stuff. So they simply put in the legal boilerplate to cover themselves regardless of where the person doing the search is located or where that information might be used.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Warnings on the People Search Type Sites and the Law

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    You would read what their warnings or terms of use say, and interpret them based upon their content. The fundamental issue is likely that there are many mismatches in databases due to similar or identical names or addresses, and the sites don't want to be blamed when somebody makes a false accusation or gets arrested for stalking or harassment.
    Sure, that makes sense - warning you about mismatches. But things like "You may not confront anybody with the data you find" - well, sounds like it is unenforceable and also absurd as sometimes not confronting somebody with certain kinds of data is not an option. What if, say, you are running a daycare center and you discover that an employee has a conviction as a pedophile? Most people would find it a bit unconsciable to do nothing with this tidbit.

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
    View Post
    Part of the issue with some of these sites is that they operate in more than one country and in some countries there are indeed some restrictions on the use of this sort of stuff. So they simply put in the legal boilerplate to cover themselves regardless of where the person doing the search is located or where that information might be used.
    Absolutely, thanks, that makes total sense.

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
    View Post
    There is no legal basis for those warnings, other than maybe CYA for the sites, as Mr K reveals.

    Example: You lend somebody money. When it comes time to pay back, he doesn't. You go after him and he's not at the same address, employer, or phone number as before. You look him up on a people search website and you get lucky and find his current address for the lawsuit.

    If those warnings had any real legal basis the Defendant would be able to get the lawsuit dismissed simply because you used his current address when you weren't supposed to. And that's certainly not going to happen.

    I'm not sure what other information might be at issue because most of those sites are woefully inaccurate and a waste of money if you happen to have spent money looking somebody up.
    Well, I am sure it differs from case to case. One of them for me, for example, dug up 6 addresses or which 4 were valid and 2 were not. So it is not perfect but sometimes is a decent investigative tool.

    In the example you have sited - absolutely, the debtor who changed addresses should have no grounds to protest provided he was discovered using publicly available data. Which can be quite extensive and even strangely encroaching on privacy. For instance, in my search I have discovered that the state of FL lists your DOB in the voter registration records - which I find excessive.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    7,813

    Default Re: Warnings on the People Search Type Sites and the Law

    Quote Quoting plushevyitigr
    View Post
    What if, say, you are running a daycare center and you discover that an employee has a conviction as a pedophile? Most people would find it a bit unconsciable to do nothing with this tidbit.
    The appropriate thing to do before running around accusing people of being pedophiles based on what one of these sites says is to verify using another source such as official court records or sex offender registries.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: Warnings on the People Search Type Sites and the Law

    I suspect one of the major purposes of these disclaimers is to dodge liability and responsibility under various federal statues like FDCPA and FCRA. I'm not sure it would actually work.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    Default Re: Warnings on the People Search Type Sites and the Law

    Quote Quoting free9man
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    The appropriate thing to do before running around accusing people of being pedophiles based on what one of these sites says is to verify using another source such as official court records or sex offender registries.
    Well, naturally you don't rush to accuse people of something like this. That definitely was not the sort of scenario I had in mind - sorry if my wording was poor. All I was saying was that a person who has discovered something potentially dangerous about someone they know can not be reasonably asked, or expected to, completely disregard that.

    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    I suspect one of the major purposes of these disclaimers is to dodge liability and responsibility under various federal statues like FDCPA and FCRA. I'm not sure it would actually work.
    Makes sense. Why shouldn't it work - IMO, at least in theory it should. If you, the customer, are explicitly told not to use the data the search engine gave you for FCRA-related purposes then if you choose to disregard this restriction then the choice is yours and yours alone and the search engine can not be held liable for the decisions you have made of your own free will and against theirs.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    1,988

    Default Re: Warnings on the People Search Type Sites and the Law

    it should be effective under FCRA, but the base issue of getting sued for defamation doens't go away. you can't say that Michelle Leslie Brown from 225th Street that plays ball in the park slept with Jake and then when sued for defamation claim it was the OTHER Michelle Leslie Brown from 225th Street that plays ball in the park.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Warnings on the People Search Type Sites and the Law

    Posting Hx.....

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