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Privacy Australia Your Rights Online

Dating Site Creates Profiles From Public Records 257

Posted by timothy
from the you-didn't-even-know-you-were-looking dept.
schliz writes "Online dating company Gotham Dating Partners has announced plans to create profiles for non-registered individuals based on publicly available information from social networking sites, e-mail registries, mailing lists, marketing surveys, government census records, real estate listings and business websites. Although the Australian Privacy Commissioner has warned that the automatic creation of identifiable profiles of individuals without their knowledge is 'not good privacy practice,' Gotham Dating Partners does not expect to face any privacy issues from the move, which is expected to boost its membership from 6.5 million to 340 million worldwide."
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Dating Site Creates Profiles From Public Records

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  • Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sltd (1182933) on Monday January 17, 2011 @02:11AM (#34902384)
    They'll just get everyone's info from Facebook!
    • Which leads to the question: why not just use Facebook directly? (And the alternate question: why hasn't someone tied together Facebook and a dating service yet? Seems like an obvious connection.)

      I can't see though why anyone would use a service where 95% of the members can't respond since they aren't registered. If the goal is to increase the signal to noise ratio by finding a good match and a successful pairing then you would want to remove idle users not add them.

    • I hope it honours the "married" status......

      There are SOME married people who use facebook, as a simple social network. I can imagine some poor married soul, who happens to have a "facebook profile" then gets sudden unsolicitated profile matches from this dating site, then has to explain to his/her partner....

      • Re:Easy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tibit (1762298) on Monday January 17, 2011 @08:57AM (#34903688)

        Poor married soul indeed: what kind of a relationship he/she is in that they can't explain simple things like that...

    • by denzacar (181829) on Monday January 17, 2011 @08:31AM (#34903606) Journal

      Thousands of divorce lawyers were hospitalized in USA's greatest epidemic of continuous orgasms.

    • Re:Easy (Score:4, Funny)

      by Chapter80 (926879) on Monday January 17, 2011 @10:40AM (#34904640)

      Cool, someone's going to create a profile for me on a dating site!

      I hope they let me know if I get laid.

  • Ugly people date (Score:5, Informative)

    by aronzak (1203098) on Monday January 17, 2011 @02:16AM (#34902406)

    The company operates several dating sites, including: Dons and Divas, Faithful Lover, Marry Me First, Prison Hookup, and Ugly People Date

    Say no more

    • The company operates several dating sites, including: Dons and Divas, Faithful Lover, Marry Me First, Prison Hookup, and Ugly People Date

      Say no more

      I assumed you had made those humorous names up. A few searches later and... holy crap.

      • Re:Ugly people date (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Monday January 17, 2011 @03:30AM (#34902676)
        For those too lazy to search: The Ugly Bug Ball - real dating for real people [theuglybugball.com].

        ... and here's their rationale:

        1. Half of daters aren't pretty so instead of fishing in a small pool of prettiness and getting nowhere dive into an ocean of uglies and have more choice
        2. Ugly people are a better calibre of human - pretty people generally aren't very nice and tend to be a bit shallow
        3. Ugly people have had a tougher life and therefore tend to be more considerate and more loyal. A recent TUBB survey also proved that they try harder in bed.
        4. Once with an ugly partner it is unlikely that anyone will try and take them from you meaning you can let yourself go completely once you're together.
        5. In these straightened times TUBB is cheaper as a) We don't charge much as the pretty sites and b) Ugly people have lower expectations - for a first date A Family Bucket will usually do the trick.

          Hehe, ... try harder in bed ... family bucket...

        • What about for those that don't want to let themselves go? Urgh. Once I realised I was past the teenage "eat whatever the hell you want" phase and was heading towards being overweight, I corrected it by learning how to eat right, and getting more regular exercise, and now I'm in better shape than most guys. As someone who grew up feeling pretty ugly, it's nice to now feel at least average and get the occasional admiring look or compliment :p

          Plus, I'd rather only date people that have a little self respect a

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          This highlights one of the biggest problems with dating web site: too much emphasis on the photo.

          Most of the people I have ever seriously liked have been fairly average looking. Not ugly, just average. I liked them because of who they were, not because their good looks made me horny and want to sleep with them. Anyway, I find I start to see the beauty in women as I get to know them and their mannerisms. You can't see that in a photo, and usually the resolution is so low you can't see if they have nice eyes

        • by Chemisor (97276) on Monday January 17, 2011 @08:34AM (#34903612)

          > Half of daters aren't pretty so instead of fishing in a small pool of prettiness and getting nowhere dive into an ocean of uglies and have more choice

          If I wanted to lower my standards that much, I could visit the local bar. It is not hard to find single ugly women; no dating site is needed for that.

          > Ugly people are a better calibre of human - pretty people generally aren't very nice and tend to be a bit shallow
          > Ugly people have had a tougher life and therefore tend to be more considerate and more loyal.

          In my experience ugly people are much worse caliber of human. They've had a tougher life and ended up mean and bitter. And while there are a very few ugly women out there who turned to learning things, most just mope around the house and complain to their ugly friends about how shallow men are.

          > A recent TUBB survey also proved that they try harder in bed.

          Anybody who hasn't been laid in years would try hard in bed. At least the first time.

          > Once with an ugly partner it is unlikely that anyone will try and take them from you meaning you can let yourself go completely once you're together.

          That's true. If you have something nobody wants, you can easily keep it. And then yourself become something nobody wants.

          > In these straightened times TUBB is cheaper as a) We don't charge much as the pretty sites and

          All dating sites worth visiting are free.

          > b) Ugly people have lower expectations - for a first date

          Fair enough. If you're ugly and have low expectation, TUBB is the site for you. The rest of us still have some self-respect left.

  • Privacy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Monday January 17, 2011 @02:21AM (#34902422) Journal

    How does a company "not expect to face privacy issues"?

    • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

      How does a company "not expect to face privacy issues"?

      If the information is truly only from public records, then the information is - you guessed it - already public. At least in general. I think a case could be made that conflating the disparate data sources into one personally identifiable profile could cross a line, but the problem with the law and privacy is - there's generally not much of a well-defined line for privacy. A good test case, though, if someone has the financial means to pursue it to a no

      • As per the article, the Australian Privacy Commissioner has suggested the company might be running afoul of the Australian NPP. Since even our government seems to have more money than this company, I'd bet there will be sufficient complaints reasonably quickly and the Govt will be initiating the lawsuits. Popcorn or similar snacks will be recommended :)
        • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

          As per the article, the Australian Privacy Commissioner has suggested the company might be running afoul of the Australian NPP.

          I don't care what the Australian anything says about anything in this instance. The title of the article says, "Non-registered individuals get dating profiles in the US". Unless Aussies are now using 'US' to mean something Australian, which would be annoying. They should just call whatever it is they're talking about 'Bruce' to save confusion. :)

          • by HJED (1304957)
            TFA says that it would include information about Australian's and the company appears to be operating in Australia. Thus I imagine even if it is legal in the US, which I doubt they could still be sued in Australia.
            As the TFA says they will be collecting info from all Facebook accounts not set to private, I imagine they could face legal problems in many countries.
            • by ais523 (1172701)

              It'd be illegal in the UK at least; there's a law against keeping databases of personally identifiable information without fulfilling several requirements (one of which is that it cannot be disclosed to third parties without the permission of the individual involved), and it's hard to see how a dating profile could be at all useful without personally identifying information. Although the existence of such a law isn't all that surprising, what perhaps is surprising is that the law in question is actually tau

      • Re:Privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by thegarbz (1787294) on Monday January 17, 2011 @02:46AM (#34902502)
        There's a world of difference between my Facebook profile being viewable and being associated and listed as single on a dating site. The difference is purpose of website and intent of visitors. If someone wants to trawl through thousands of public facebook accounts looking for single people then so be it. It's quite another to be expressly listed on a search engine designed for such a thing. An extreme example is where your phone number is publicly listed in the phone book may be of no concern to you. Would you feel the same way if it was posted on 4chan along with messages of "Let's make this guy's life hell?"

        I'm waiting for the moment this company gets sued because without anyone's consent they built a profile which turned out to be not favorable based on automated / wrong information.

        I know I know, public information is public information. However in my country a "reasonable expectation" rule applies to such things. An example is if you're in a restaurant (publicly accessible place), but you're sitting in the far corner alone not engaging anyone you have a legally granted reasonable expectation of privacy, and I don't think a reasonable person would expect their phone number to end up on a dating site without consent, even if it is listed in the phone book.
      • There's a lot of public information out there, and a lot of it is wrong or misleading. Couldn't you have a case for libel if say for instance this company crafts a profile for an unknowing individual which suggests he's gay when he isn't?

        Honestly, I think it's a tad shady that a company is crafting dating profiles for people who don't want them using random information from the internet of all places as a source. Can you imagine the shock some girlfriend or boyfriend might encounter stumbling across some pr

        • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

          There's a lot of public information out there, and a lot of it is wrong or misleading. Couldn't you have a case for libel if say for instance this company crafts a profile for an unknowing individual which suggests he's gay when he isn't?

          Absolutely, but that's a pretty big assumption to make about what this company is going to do before they've done anything. We don't even know if they'll be marking unclaimed profiles as 'available' or 'looking' or anything like that.

          Honestly, I think it's a tad shady that

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        In places like Canada and Germany, even public information can't be used like that otherwise it breaches the privacy act(s). While I realize this is aussieland and all that, they could violate the laws of other countries by doing what they're planning to do.

        • by HJED (1304957)
          The company operates in the US, TFA is Australian so is looking at it from an Australian perspective. It is not saying that they are only planing to do this for Australian users in fact it actually implies most of the information sources will be from the US (plus all Facebook accounts with bad privacy settings).
          They do however seem to operate world wide so they are probably open to legal proceedings in many countries (including Australia according to the TFA)
      • libel and slander (Score:5, Informative)

        by epine (68316) on Monday January 17, 2011 @03:16AM (#34902628)

        It's not just a matter of privacy. Repeating false information about a person runs foul of libel and slander.

        The credit rating agencies have some kind of weird exemption under law from being sued under libel or slander. So if a creditor gives a credit agency false information about your payment history, it's a huge ordeal to get this expunged, and meanwhile you can't sue the credit rating agency for broadcasting what would be a libellous falsehood in any other context.

        These people, not so lucky.

        I don't think the credit rating agencies want to see big issues surrounding libel and slander challenged in court. They have it good. Hardly anyone ever points out their cozy loophole. Either they'll choose to prop up the legitimacy of these fringe collators, or they'll be distributing severed horse heads to make them go away.

    • by mcvos (645701)

      By ignoring them.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Probably they're looking at the legal side: they must have found a way to stay within the letter of the law.

      You're probably thinking of the general feelings of the general public regarding privacy.

      Unfortunately these two are not always the same. Hence the site has "no privacy issues" but you (and me, and probably most of /. and the rest of the thinking part of this world's population) will see it as a privacy issue.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Monday January 17, 2011 @02:26AM (#34902432)

    Online dating company Gotham Dating Partners...

    How many times do I have to tell you that I'm not interested in dating Batman? What a goddamn passive-aggressive slut.

  • Stalk-my-true-love.com

  • by a.koepke (688359) on Monday January 17, 2011 @02:33AM (#34902452)
    Can they really claim someone is a "member" of the site if that person hasn't even heard of the site before?

    If they decide to do this there should be some marker on that profile to say it has been created from public information obtained without that person's consent or knowledge.

    There also needs to be some way to allow you to verify your identity and take ownership of the profile they have setup for you which should include the option to remove your profile.
    • Can they really claim someone is a "member" of the site if that person hasn't even heard of the site before?

      By the virtue of being born within the internationally recognized borders of the giant Republic of Internet, you are hereby granted membership of this dating site. It is a cross you have to bear.

      Thank you for your co-operation.

    • Can they really claim someone is a "member" of the site if that person hasn't even heard of the site before?

      Some are bot net members too, I bet they haven't heard of those either.

  • to make you go on bad blind dates

  • by Tokerat (150341)

    Please tell me this is a parody.

  • Dating site scams (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, 2011 @02:38AM (#34902478)

    Lonely men on these sites can now look forward to receiving more 'winks' from hot 19 year old co-eds (who aren't actually members or interested) urging them to 'upgrade their membership' (pay money) in order to reply to them.

    Anyone signing up to these sites should check the Ts&Cs very carefully. My favourite is Ashley Madison's:

    From time to time this service may include, offer, or initiate winks, collect messages or instant chat from Market Researchers (Online Hosts) simulating attached or single men or women. These efforts are conducted for market research and/or customer experience and/or quality control and/or compliance purposes. Market research information is used to provide analysis, feedback, trends, patterns, social commentary and information in the aggregate and aides in the process of monitoring our system for compliance of our operating standards and code of conduct. Accordingly, Market Researchers (Online Hosts) will NOT be conspicuously identified.

    Any male signing up, can expect to be contacted by some impossibly hot young thing, within hours of sign-up.

    • by Fnkmaster (89084)

      Lately, that's not so far off from what Facebook has been like. I get a constant barrage of fake/fraudulent friend requests (in recent weeks, at least 1-2 a day) from clearly fake accounts set up solely for data phishing/market research/stealing my private information. At least I can only assume those are their motives, since they sure as hell don't want to be my friends.

  • These are the guys who run PrisonHookup.com. [prisonhookup.com]

    Could be worse. It could be Friendfinder, which was so successful with phony ads and spam that they now own Penthouse. They just made a bid for Playboy Inc., but Hefner turned it down and is taking Playboy private.

    • by OverlordQ (264228)

      Could be worse. It could be Friendfinder, which was so successful with phony ads and spam that they now own Penthouse.

      You got that backwards, Penthouse bought Friendfinder then changed their name.

  • Boost membership? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MavEtJu (241979) <slashdot@@@mavetju...org> on Monday January 17, 2011 @02:53AM (#34902536) Homepage

    Now run this by me again...

    How does
    create profiles for non-registered individuals based on publicly available information

    result into
    which is expected to boost its membership from 6.5 million to 340 million worldwide.

    ?

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      All those profiles are considered "members" probably. It's just an easy way to boost your membership numbers.

      Still I wonder what that will bring to the site: instead of 6.5 million people that are actively looking for a date, you add 333.5 million people that are presumably not actively looking for a date to the site.

      Now I'm imagining using such a site, and browsing profiles. When looking at a profile of prospective dates, the chance that this individual is also in the market for a date is less than 2% in

      • Now I'm imagining using such a site, and browsing profiles. When looking at a profile of prospective dates, the chance that this individual is also in the market for a date is less than 2% instead of 100% (assuming for the sake of the argument that members that registered themselves are all looking for dates). Add to that the chance that she may be interested to go on a date with you (which is, say, 10%) it's getting pretty horrible. Not even 0.2% chance to actually get a date!

        Hey, that sounds like a good d

    • by pieterh (196118)

      ... is expected to boost its "membership" from 6.5 million...

      Hope that helps. The goal is not to sell dating services, the goal is to attract men with lonely penis syndrome, and sell them useless services. A larger "membership", which presumably will be principally profiles of women naive enough to leave their FB profiles open, will attract more LPS men, and generate more money.

      Here's how it works. You have LPS, you go to this site, make a search. The site convincingly shows you dozens of matching profil

  • by mcvos (645701) on Monday January 17, 2011 @02:59AM (#34902558)

    When I read the summary, I thought they were going to create the most useless dating site ever. Where many commercial dating sites already have the problem that the vast majority of your matches will be unable to respond, here the vast majority of your matches wouldn't even be interested in dating, and would consider your attempts to contact them spam.

    TFA sounds more like they want to provide a service for people and companies to collect information on people (prospective employees?), while the official cover story is that they want to check the accuracy of their dating profiles (but then why would they need millions of other profiles too?).

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Monday January 17, 2011 @03:10AM (#34902608)

    From the article:

    [The company's marketing vice president Damon] Jordan did not expect to face any privacy issues by aggregating publicly available information, stating: "If the information is public, there are no privacy issues."

    That's an interesting stance from such a public figure. I really hope no one will try to aggregate every piece of publicly available information about this particular person and post it in a single, easy to use post/thread.

    Personally I'd consider it a rather large violation, but hey - to each their own, right?

    • by jack2000 (1178961)
      And people wonder why i don't leave any personal information online anymore.
  • by Nyall (646782) on Monday January 17, 2011 @03:14AM (#34902614) Homepage

    How about we not give these clowns free publicity for spouting nonsense ?

    This isn't any different than the ryan airlines CEO make press releases about only needing one pilot.

  • These dating site ideas are getting pathetic. I saw a commercial ON TELEVISION for a website aimed at connecting married partners who want to have an affair. This is possibly one of the most tasteless ideas/commercials I have ever witnessed.
  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Monday January 17, 2011 @03:50AM (#34902760)

    http://xkcd.com/713/ [xkcd.com]

    I felt obliged to post an XKCD link -- as it is our custom.

  • Is there anyone here who can comment on the legality of what they are doing?
    Also did Google Street view set a legal president for this, as what Google did seems to be similar (but less invasive).
    • Silly poster, Google Street View can't set a president for anything; a precedent, perhaps...but I think we're getting a bit into apples and oranges here (or, at least, Red Delicious and Granny Smith). While Google went about collecting (wittingly or unwittingly) anything they could get, they weren't out to identify specific people, nor does it seem their intent was to collect the (personal) data for specific use in their site/marketing/etc. These blokes, however, are crawling for whatever personally ident
  • Has anyone considered finding some way to put some sufficiently believable yet false information out in the public view that could really muck up their business plan? Maybe a Jimmy L. Brohlin, or a Bard S. Pittson...I'm sure someone out there has some sufficiently attractive nephews to pop out a few headshots...
  • I've actually often wondered about this... that is, what sort of general conclusions could one come to about me based on publicly available information? I've googled myself before and most of what I've found reflects some of my interests, but I really don't know what sort of generalization one could make about me based on that.

    All I can see, in general that one could conclude about me is that I like Lego, programming, role playing games, and appear to take an active interest in the issues surrounding copyright law and copyright reform. What would that *really* tell anybody about me, however?

    I am inclined to conclude that the publicly available information probably amounts to considerably more than a google search, because I certainly don't see how what I find with google would really tell anybody anything that's actually useful for people I do not know to know about me unless they actually wanted to engage me in a conversation.

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