Letter Re: A Privacy Lesson From the Boston Bombing Investigation

I learned something from the recent Boston terrorist incident….though it passed very quickly in a reporter’s interview – and even though the reporter was interrupted and didn’t get to finish her thought.

In regards to one of the bombers, the reporter said something like  “We can tell from the contents of his “Wish List” online, that he”  ……..(not exact quote).


I was aware that Amazon.com had a “Wish List” that shoppers can create.  I had NOT been aware that you can search for anyone’s “Wish Lists”, but you can.

So everybody needs to know that any Wish List they have at these online sites which can be accessed by others, CAN BE ACCESSED BY JOURNALISTS OR POLCE INVESTIGATORS, simply by searching for a name or an e-mail address.

MORAL OF THE STORY:  If you don’t want others to know your preferences, then don’t leave anything on your Wish Lists .- O.H.

JWR Replies: Reader Papa in Mississippi mentioned: “Wish List settings can be changed to ‘Public’ (anyone can see), ‘Shared’ (invited people can see), or ‘Private’ (only you can see – which sorta defeats the purpose of a wish list.) The default is ‘Public’ which the vast majority of people probably never think to adjust.”

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