Jay Bhatti in Perth Now News in Australia
A US web firm is preparing to launch an ambitious internet search engine it hopes will eventually track down the names of the world’s six billion people.
Spock.com says it has already indexed 100 million people and is adding a million names per day on the invitation-only, beta version of its website, which will be made available to the public in mid-August.
The emergence of people search engines has sparked concerns over privacy rights. The sites Wink.com and Zoominfo.com already have 200,000 and 37,000 profiles, respectively.
These websites seek to carve their own territory in the search engine world dominated by internet giant Google, which already has the distinction of becoming a verb, as anyone who has “googled” information would know.
“We are a search engine organising information about people,” Spock.com co-founder Jay Bhatti said.
“How Google allows you to type anything and gives you a web document result, we give you results around people,” he said.
“That’s how we differentiate ourselves from other search applications, because we are solely focused on people.”
The founders of Spock.com, which has been under development since 2006 in Redwood City, California, hope the website will eventually provide a search result for everyone in the world.
To index individuals, Spock.com scours through social networking websites such as MySpace, Friendster and Beebo.
But it also allows web surfers to add information about individuals to help Spock.com compile full profiles.
“We try to index people, but the machine is not enough to understand all the data,” Mr Bhatti said.
That’s where the community comes in. As an user of Spock, you will be able to add keywords, pictures, and to upload pages about people.”
Spock.com website had a system to filter out false information that could destroy the website’s credibility, Mr Bhatti said.
Amid concerns over privacy rights on the internet, Mr Bhatti said Spock.com allowed a person to have his or her profile removed and ask the website to determine where the information came from.
Internet privacy rights groups were concerned about the possibility of abuse with these websites.
“More and more of our lives appear online, or are being organised online, said Derek Slater, an activism co-ordinator at Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy rights group.
“It can be very annoying to see so much of someone online, potentially without putting that (information) online oneself,” Mr Slater said.