Pardon the Disruption
Part public service announcement about privacy, part call to action, and part social experiment. I hope you will Pardon the Disruption as I take internet data collection to a new level.
What happens when hundreds of conference attendees all get calls at the same time from a system that knows a bit too much? We're going to find out!
My creation tracks live tweets (in this case mentioning #tcdisrupt) and figures out who sent them and the sender's contact info in under 60 seconds. If it finds your phone number, Pardon the Disruption will give you a call and alert you to your leaky privacy, including other interesting discovered info, such as age, employer, hometown, college education, personal email address, gender, full name, etc. All the info it finds is publicly available on the internet and legally accessible, although I have built my own algorithms to correlate the data across sites, profiles, and aliases as well as assess the accuracy of the discovered data.
Here is a video of my demo at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon 2012 at which I won special mention (top 7 out of 151).
Example text messages that were sent:
Hey Paul, what's up man? I can't believe you're 28 already. Time flies! Are you going to be around Calgary, Canada next week?
Hey Liza, how's it going, girl? Are you going to be around San Francisco next week? Is firstname.lastname@example.org still your current email?
Hey Matthew, how are you? I ran into some of your old English & Computer Science friends from Trinity College yesterday. What's new with CloudFlare?
Hey Roberto, what's up man? What's new with TheSocialRadio.com? Is email@example.com still your current email?
Example phone call that was sent:
Hello, is this Paul? Pardon the disruption. This is just a reminder that the internet is a powerful tool. From Calgury, Canada to Palo Alto, California, industries are being disrupted. Privacy is one of them. Do you have any idea how much information has accumulated about you during your 28 years on this planet? Even if you're busy at Facebook, you should make time to check your online footprint. To find out more, just do a Google search for "Paul Tarjan" in quotes, or use a service with more detailed analysis such as NotSoPrivate.net. Thanks for taking the time to listen to this important public service announcement. We will be in touch, but in the meantime you can check out PardonTheDisruption.org. Enjoy the rest of your event!
Over 200 people were contacted by phone while I was on stage. Very few of the phone number had errors (not in service, no connection, etc), many of the calls were answered by a human (based on an answering machine detection algorithm), and a surprising amount actually listened to the majority of the call before hanging up, even though it was an automated computerized voice.
Perhaps more interesting, many people who received text messages (such as the ones shown above) replied with something to the effect of "Yes, it is. But who is this? You're not in my contact list." People assumed that they were being contacted by an old friend who somehow wasn't properly saved in their contact list. They actually responded and confirmed things like "is firstname.lastname@example.org your current email address?" or "are you going to be in City next week?", and only afterwards did they ask for confirmation as to who they were talking to.
This is just an experiment. Your information is already out there, and I have built systems in the past to help identify and remove it, most notably NotSoPrivate.net. The information I gathered for this demo was being gathered live and was not stored longer than a few minutes. I built Pardon the Disruption to raise awareness and stir the pot a bit.
Created by Roger Pincombe in under 24 hours at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF Hackathon 2012.