Zabasearch: An Invasion of Privacy?

Christopher Tkel
Christopher Tkel
Stephen Levins
Stephen Levins
Leila Kang
Leila Kang

HONOLULU (KHNL) - One year after coming online, the web site zabasearch is stirring up a lot of anxieties here in the islands and across the country. People are now discovering their personal information is floating freely in cyberspace, for all the world to see.

In this day and age of increased identity theft, how scary is this: KHNL was able to find one man's personal information easily on a laptop.

"I hate it. Tell whoever started this, this is an invasion of privacy: said Christopher Tkel of Moilili. 

The hated website is Type in your name, and most likely, a surprising amount of personal information is revealed. And here lies the rub: all of this is legal.

"Theres a lot of information on the internet, there's a lot of public information out there' said Stephen Levins of the state office of Consumer Protection.

The controversial website is nothing new to him.

"Recently we've received a lot of inquiries regarding Zabasearch, the reason for this is because there's been an email circulating warning people about Zabasearch and the information that they have on you" said Levins.

"Kang. K-A-N-G. Rowena is my mother. Ruth is my grandmother. I don t know how they got that information because my dad is not listed in the phone book, I don t think." said Leila Kang of Aliumanu upon seeing much of her family information displayed online.

"There s a lot of information on the internet, a lot of public information out there that's all been computerized, there s a lot of public information that's in government records. There are legitimate concerns of people who may be stalking people" said Levins.

"It's kind of scary that they have all that information" said Kang.

The website claims you can have your name removed. But, Levins says he still receives complaints.

"We currently are investigating the company, such as it's been difficult to get off the Zabasearch list."

So what can you do? According to Levins, not much, except try your best to protect your personal information by following these basic steps:

  • Don't fill out any surveys. The information will be sold to marketers; not just your name and address, but everything else you put down
  • When you buy a new product, you're not required to write down your personal information to validate the warranty, so don't
  • The same applies to those contests you see at local plate lunch places. Fill out your name and a contact number, and that's it!

"But, there are other things that unfortunately you can't prevent, such as if you on a title to a house, that's public record" said Levins.

And now, we must all adjust to "life as an open book" in the 21st century.