Public Information Search: What is Public Information?
The attempt to record and document information is as old as civilization itself. However, the records of even a single individual now are a plethora of various points of events in their life. Databases have become more comprehensive. While there was a time when an individual’s records did not contain anything more than their resume could tell us, now everything from our biometrics to our phone calls, location history, and our virtual communications are recorded and stored.
The database is getting stronger, wider and bigger every day. Quite a few database management sites offer access to such records either free or at a charge, but never the less the information is ‘public’ and easier to access.
Public information is essentialy information of an individual that is not confidential in nature and can be useful especially for conduct of government. What information will or will not be a part of the public information is dependent on the state the person lives in. As a matter of fact, when doing a public information search, it is advised to search for records in every state the individual has lived in.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that requires the release of partial or full public information on request by the United States government. Additionally, every state has its own different Freedom of Information law in practice. What surprises most people is when they realize the amount of information that is considered public.
The legal definition of public information (44 USCS § 3502) says that it constitutes “any information, regardless of form or format, that an agency discloses, disseminates, or makes available to the public”.
From the first piece of record which is the birth certificate, an individual’s schooling, different organizations they have been part of, the products they have purchased, the houses they have lived in, their relatives and family history, their medical history, their jobs, incomes and expenditures, the places they have traveled to, the hotels they have stayed at and of course any criminal records or legal proceedings are all a part of the database.
Sex offenders once found guilty are also registered and it becomes permanent on their public information. Everything an individual chooses to post on social media or any virtual platform is also accessible by the government and public if the given is required for official work. Individuals often feel uncomfortable after realizing that a huge part of their life is publicly available.
A public information search can be carried out by an individual, organization and the government. Anyone who holds a certain degree of personal interest in you, like a prospective employer, might consider running a search of your records. A background check or a people search are more commonly used terms for such searches. Various websites including the government website of particular states and agencies provide such information at different costs depending on the information up for request.
A sufficient amount of information is even provided for free by a huge chunk of websites. Most websites specialize in certain kinds of information. A government website will provide information recorded in that given state, while other websites or agents will find records from each state to provide a more comprehensive picture.
Documentation and recording is not a new concept and such information has always existed, it is the degree of access that has changed in recent years. Certainly, though the records are public, there are certain rules and policies abided by all that should be followed before anyone can receive information post a request. However, with the growth of the internet, access to such public information has undoubtedly grown easier.