Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft
What They (Don't) Know About You
By Julia Scheeres
2:35 a.m. May 11, 2001 PDT
When Richard Smith got his FBI file, he learned a lot of interesting things about himself.
He found out that he had died in 1976 and that he may have previously been married to a woman named Mary. He also discovered that he may be known as "Ricky Smith" or "Rickie Smith" -- aliases he shares with a couple of convicts doing hard time in Texas.
En fin, Smith -- who is the chief technology officer of the Privacy Foundation -- found that his FBI file contained more errors than correct data.
"I was kinda curious about what the FBI thought about me," said Smith. For $20, he got a copy of his file from Choicepoint, a data aggregator in Georgia that sells millions of dossiers on private citizens to both the government and private business.