By Kathy Zucker • Monday, December 16, 2013
This morning, I posted on social media the name and address of the shooting victim from last night’s carjacking at the Mall at Short Hills. I can hear you asking right now, why would you violate the privacy of an utterly blameless 30 year old attorney and his newlywed wife?
I did it to show exactly how easy it is to find someone’s public information.
I have my privacy violated constantly. Anonymous letters mailed to the home where I live with my three children, ages 7, 5 and 1 – and I do not publish my address on any of my websites. Emails to clients – who has the time to go digging through my blog to find the names of professional organizations, go to their websites and track down the contact information for the founder? What exactly is the purpose behind this, except to destroy my business and the businesses of people who I know and trust? Do these people honestly think I would fire contractors based on anonymous tips that inevitably fail to hold water?
Whenever I tell someone about these privacy violations, the reaction I always receive is, “You deserve it because you are a public figure.” Apparently if you have your writing published even once in a media outlet that means it is open season for all the world on every aspect of your life and those of your family members. Forever. Better watch out, writers of letters to the editor. Kim Kardashian gets this treatment every time she changes her clothes, and we justify it because she is a celebrity with lucrative endorsements based on her lifestyle.
In this instance, we have someone who wasn’t even on social media, except for Facebook and LinkedIn, and isn’t everyone? He was in no way in the public eye, yet he is receiving the Kardashian treatment. The media is camped out at his door, to the point where the building has been vacated and police are barricading the entrance.
— Kathryn Brenzel (@katiebrenzel) December 16, 2013
It took me 39 seconds to locate the address for Dustin Friedland in the New Jersey homeowner database. And no, you cannot suppress information in public records. If you want to get angry, don’t waste your time trying to change the behavior of the media. They are a symptom of a problem that has caused egregious privacy violations again and again, not the problem itself. We are all part of the problem – every time a sensational story hits, our website clicks cause traffic and revenue to soar. Apparently we all care a lot about Miley Cyrus and the royal baby, not so much for the NSA surveillance scandal.
No one is safe. Your information is out there on public databases that can find your name, addresses and family members. We can justify all we want that people “deserve” the media feeding frenzy, but all it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time to get the Kardashian treatment. We need to have laws enacting a privacy freeze similar to the security freeze that protects against identity theft. Channel your outrage into letters to your elected officials – click here to find your New Jersey legislator.
Dustin Friedland did not deserve to have his privacy violated. Neither do I. And neither does Kim Kardashian.
And before you ask, I am not publishing this piece to drive traffic to my site. I do not accept any paid ads on MomCondoLiving.com, and I have not received a single penny in the five years I have been blogging here. Every single post on this site has been written from the heart – I hope to keep it up for years to come.