Maybe you've dated someone you shouldn't have. Sometimes that means getting bored or a little inconvenienced. For a friend of mine that meant being lied to by a con-artist for months in his elaborate ruse to get money. It's a tough world out there so information snooping website Intelius is offering Date Check, a new sort of free App for your iPhone, Android, or (soon) BlackBerry. Using just an email address or phone number, Date Check lets you search for someone's criminal record, investigate their living situation, scan through their social networking, and browse other public information. It's the online equivalent of a full body frisk. Maybe not the most romantic thing to do to someone you're hoping to have a nice meal with, but it could be helpful to people hoping to avoid being conned. Check out the video from Intelius after the break.
This sort of public information interrogation twists the idea of privacy in interesting ways. Intelius only gets a hold of files that are public: (unsealed) criminal records, registered phone numbers, registered leases/titles on homes, twitter feeds, facebook profiles, etc. Still, it puts all of that information in one access point (the App) and doesn't mediate it. Yes, John Smith has a DUI, but was it a one time mistake or a habitual crime? Jane Doe may have a really scandalous facebook profile, but is that a sign of a personality flaw?
Part of me can't help but think that Date Check is itself trying to pass off a deception. Yes Intelius has marketed this as a free dating App. Yes it contains a horoscope comparison feature. Yes their booth at CES was populated by scantily clad ladies spouting concerns about modern dating dangers. But let's look beyond that, shall we? Once you get a few tidbits of information about a date, the Date Check App will route you to the Intelius website to see if you want to learn more. For around $5-$50 (depending on the type of info) you can see the really juicy public records. In short, Date Check is just a gateway drug to get people into the Intelius website and pay to research other people. Heck, the biggest market for this App may not be women on dates, it's probably landlords and employers looking to investigate new people.
But, you know, I'm not sure I have anything against that. These are public records. Even credit reports, which are a mine field of privacy issues, are open to be viewed by almost anyone with the funds. I don't particularly like people browsing through my information, but they can do that anyway. Date Check and Intelius just make it easier.
Or they should. After working with Date Check's booth girls for a while I couldn't get any down and dirty information about any of my friends. I tried phone numbers and email addresses and nothing juicy popped up. Not even for my really sketchy acquaintances (you know who you are). Now, that's partly an artifact of my demographics. I'm young enough that most of my friends move around a lot, few own homes, and many are still in school. That's not going to produce many records for Intelius to browse through. Still, it suggests that a positive result on Date Check is not a guarantee that the guy you're trying to date isn't a sleazebag. Maybe he's just under the radar.
[image and video credit: Intelius]