With only a few mouse clicks anyone can get your personal information (credit information, social security numbers, past residences and etc) and have a field day with your life. How to protect yourself? You can’t. Only laws being considered will stop companies that house/collect this data from releasing it into the “wrong” hands.
The NY Times writes Working with a strict requirement to use only legal, public sources of information, groups of three to four students set out to vacuum up not just tidbits on citizens of Baltimore, but whole databases: death records, property tax information, campaign donations, occupational license registries. They then cleaned and linked the databases they had collected, making it possible to enter a single name and generate multiple layers of information on individuals. Each group could spend no more than $50.
Although big data brokers can buy the databases they crave – from local governments as well as credit agencies, retail outlets and other sources that students would not have access to – the exercise replicated, on a small scale, the methods of such companies.