People Search

People Search – Pricing Update

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From 6th July 2012, we will be making a change to the People Search pricing. The change is specifically applicable to the Daily Subscription only. The Daily Subscription will change over to a limited number of searches instead of the unlimited searches which were offered till now. The three options within Daily Subscription will be:
1 search – Rs 19
5 searches – Rs 49
10 searches – Rs 89

A search is defined as opening up a single record to view its details by clicking on the Plus sign.

Search

Users who need large number of searches will benefit from Monthly and Yearly Subscriptions, which will continue to have unlimited searches (at Rs 499 and Rs 1999 respectively).

To summarize, if you are an individual who requires looking up a person or a few persons, the Daily Pass will be the best option. If you represent a business and want to try out the service, the Monthly Pass will be suitable. Once your business sees value in the service after trying out the service for a month, you should consider going in for the Yearly Pass as it gives the best value.

As always, I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Updated Pricing for People Search

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As mentioned in one of the earlier posts (Paid Subscriptions for People Search), we had moved over to paid model of People Search service as the entire process of building the People Search database and continuously maintaining and updating it, requires fair bit of continued efforts and associated costs. Next, we had launched a limited time period offer for Hourly Pass at Rs 19 to serve the individual buyers (as against corporate buyers who prefer Monthly and Yearly Passes).

Now, based on better understanding of our customers’ requirements, from 12th August 2011, we are moving over to the following subscription variants:
• Day (24 hour) Pass at Rs 29 – primarily for the individual consumers
• Monthly Pass at Rs 499 – primarily for corporate buyers to try out the service
• Yearly Pass at Rs 1999 – for corporate buyers

Like before, each of these variants allows unlimited searches during the period of subscription. Also, as newer data sources or updated records are added during the subscription, they are automatically included in the subscription package. As always, support will be available via email, phone or live chat.

If you are an individual who requires looking up a person or a few persons, the Daily Pass will be the best option. If you are a business and want to try out the service, the Monthly Pass will be suitable. Once your business sees value in the service after trying out the service for a month, you should consider going in for the Yearly Pass as it gives the best value and maximum discount.

As always, I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Paid Subscriptions for People Search

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Since going live with JantaKhoj website, our People Search service has been available for free. It was kept in beta version till the website upgrade which we did last month. The intent was to see the market adoption and acceptance. The entire process of building the People Search database and continuously maintaining and updating it, requires fair bit of continued efforts and associated costs. With a view to offset some of these costs and to continue making more investments in improving the People Search and associated customer service, we are moving over to paid subscription model for People Search.

Three variants of subscriptions are being offered – Day (24 hour) Pass, Monthly Pass and Yearly Pass, costing Rs 49, Rs 299 and Rs 999 respectively. Each of these variants allows unlimited searches during the period of subscription. Also, if newer data sources or updated records are added during the subscription, they are automatically included in the subscription package. As always, support will be available via email, phone or live chat.

If you are an individual who requires looking up a person or a few persons, the Daily Pass will be the best option. If you are a business and want to try out the service, the Monthly Pass will be suitable. Once your business sees value in the service after trying out the service for a month, you should consider going in for the Yearly Pass as it gives the best value and maximum discount.

As always, I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Announcing New Feature – Adding Your Entry in People Search

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We had received requests from some users of People Search that they were not able to find their own entries in the search and would be keen to have their details entered. Till now, we were asking such requests to be sent by mail. And these were then added to the People Search database.

We are pleased to bring the user entry feature online through a web form, doing away with the need for sending details via mail. The option shows up in the form of a message ‘Unable to find your record! Click here to add your details’, just below the People Search entry fields, after a search has been done.

Once the web form has been submitted, the details start showing up in the People Search results after a few hours. The record is clearly marked as ‘User generated record’ in the search results to distinguish it from the publicly available records.

We hope that this feature will make the People Search even more useful. Your feedback is always welcome.

Announcing Enhanced People Search

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Introduces Advanced Search, Filters, Social Media Profiles and Web Coverage

We are delighted to release the next generation of JantaKhoj People Search. At a high level, the new People Search introduces advanced search, more filters, public social media profiles, pictures, videos, blogs, court records and other Web references.

Advanced search and additional filters allow narrowing down of search results by State, Gender, Age range (minimum to maximum fields), Phone number, Family and neighbours. This had been a consistent request from our users and was one of the highest priority items in the new release.

The new search also adds a whole lot of new panels which index and aggregate information from a wide variety of other public sources:
• Social media profiles (BigAdda, Facebook, Friendster, Fropper, ibibo, MySpace)
• Business networks (LinkedIn)
• Photo sharing sites (Bing, Flickr, Google, Picasa)
• Video sharing sites (Bing, Google, YouTube)
• Blogs
• Court records (coverage across judgements of Supreme Court and most of the High Courts)
• Book results (Google)
• Web links and references
• Phone books
• Patents

We will continue to add more public sources as we go forward. In case, you feel that we have missed out any important source, please do let us know via the Feedback Form or a mail to feedback[at]jantakhoj[dot]com.

Happy searching!

People Search – Privacy Concerns

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This post is in continuation to the earlier one on People Search – A Brief Introduction and Landscape Review and goes deeper to address some of concerns which accompany People Search services.

Such services have become mainstream in the developed world. For example, USA itself has dozens of such providers with Intelius and USSearch (now acquired by Intelius) as the two largest players in the paid online people search space. These two providers have indexed billions of public records related to US residents, covering the entire spectrum from light weight information (like contact details including address, phone numbers, family members) to more serious stuff (like property registrations, value of the property owned, criminal and court records, sex offender registry, income, bankruptcy). The sources of such records encompass telephone directories, utility company records, tenancy and property registration records, business records, court and criminal records among other. If you doubt me, I invite you to go ahead and search for ‘Tarunendra Bangari’ (my full name) on www.ussearch.com.

People Search Screenshot 1

The 4 results shown are mostly accurate (except the age as I still have a long way to go before 90!) but of course, you have to pay up anywhere from $1.95 to $39.95 to get all the details.

People Search Screenshot 2

The point which I am driving home here is that with paid reports, you can get to know my full name, date of birth, relatives, neighbours, average income, address, phone numbers, address history, criminal and court records! (Caveat: Of course, since I was in USA only from 2000-2004, some of this information will be outdated.)

Now let us focus on the Indian context. To the extent I am aware of, there is no such provider of People Search services except JantaKhoj. Just like the other global People Search providers, JantaKhoj has relied exclusively on public records. It means that these records are either publicly available on the Internet (though they may not be so easy to find) or available in the public domain for anybody to access.

JantaKhoj does not disclose these various sources of public records, primarily due to business and competitive reasons. But this non-disclosure does not indicate that we have resorted to using clandestine or unscrupulous third party lists which are available all over the market. Each and every record shown within the JantaKhoj People Search is backed by a publicly available link (URL) or source, which was indexed by JantaKhoj. JantaKhoj has also deployed deep web data extraction technology which means that quite a few of the records may not even show up on regular search engines like Google.

We have kept the privacy concerns of the individuals at the highest consideration. Our Privacy Policy clearly mentions how individuals can have their records removed from the People Search service. As and when we receive such requests, we take action on them as per the timeframes mentioned in the policy. The challenge is to explain to the concerned individuals that this information is already available in other public sources and even if we suppress our records, the information will still be available on the original sources.

The more interesting bit is that we have received a fairly large number of requests of people who were not able to find or view their own records in the People Search and have requested inclusion of their details. This number continues to go up every day. While we process these requests on a case by case basis right now, we are in the process of releasing a web request form which will allow users to have their details included in the search database with great ease.

In summary, while the concept of People Search is relatively new to India and causes privacy concerns occasionally, in the longer term, this segment of web based search is poised for explosive growth in the coming years.

People Search – A Brief Introduction and Landscape Review

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People Search refers to an online service which allows you to enter either name or other personal details to search and find out more about a specific individual. Such services typically gather information from a wide variety of public records. The key advantage of using such services is that you are able to save time by not having to search across a wide range of public websites and sources. It is also important to understand that People Search does not mean searching of suitable candidates for hiring. Also, it does not mean searching for lost or missing individuals.

Such services are already quite well established in most of the developed countries. Many of them are paid services but some are available for free too. For example, this article from TopTenReviews covers the paid People Search services within USA. Another article at Findermind reviews a host of paid and free People Search services. Depending upon what kind of information you already have about the individual, the geography where the person lives, and what information you are looking for, you may have to try out a couple of these services to get the desired results.

While some of these global People Search engines cover the Indian population too, they still tend to perform much better if the person being searched is living in USA, Canada, Europe, and Australia. That is, the coverage on Indians is generally somewhat limited. So, the regular web search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo are used for doing People Search on resident Indians. The advantage of the regular search engines is that they are able to present a really large number of results across a wide range of websites. The disadvantage is that sometimes the number of results may be overwhelming and finding out the relevant details may be very time consuming.

So the need still remains for a search engine which specializes in People Search on resident Indians. This is exactly what JantaKhoj.com aims to provide.

India’s Unique ID (UID) project – Aadhaar – and Background Verifications

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Some of our readers and occasionally, journalists and bloggers have asked us how does our work correlate to that of India’s UID project – Aadhaar. Also, they are curious to know the impact which Aadhaar may have on people search and background verifications.

Firstly, I would like to clarify that we are a ‘for profit’, business-focused start-up and neither we nor our services have any association with Aadhaar. Aadhaar is indeed one of the most ambitious technology projects which India has undertaken and it has the potential to transform the way state’s services are delivered to its citizens.

While the full extent of how Aadhaar will help in personal identification is yet to be understood completely, it does appear that the UID number and the associated smart card (with the biometric and certain personal details stored on it), will allow for verifying if the person is indeed who he or she claims to be. The UID FAQs mention – “Once a person is on the UID database the person will be able to establish identity easily. The UID will become the single source of identity verification. Residents would be spared the hassle of repeatedly providing supporting identity documents each time they wish to access services such as obtaining a bank account, passport, driving license, and so on.”

On privacy and confidentiality, the UID FAQs clearly mention – “In order to protect the right to privacy of the individual the information on the database will not be shared with anyone; all queries will get a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response”. This official note makes it completely clear that the UID database will NOT be available to third party background verification companies and WILL be available only to certain government departments, government agencies and law enforcement bodies.

Additionally, the UID database is not going to cover elements like educational background, criminal history, work experience and past references. This major point, along with UID database being off-limits for general public including the background verification companies, makes it clear that the need for verifying address, education credentials, work experience, criminal background, and references, will continue to exist.

In summary, it seems that the publicly available people search and background verifications will not be impacted by UID project.

What would you like to see in People Search?

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Right now, our free People Search service presents details on address, phone number, relatives and neighbours. These are gathered and indexed from the public records which are available in various online sources. We do understand that while this is useful, this may be just a starting point for People Search, and that you would definitely have some great ideas on how this service should evolve in the future.

We want to hear your ideas. What shape should the service take in the future? What do you think is useful? How can we improve the People Search?

You can respond via the blog / Facebook comments or by writing in to feedback [at] jantakhoj [dot] com. Share this with others so that they can participate too.

The best suggestion sent within the next seven days will get you an Infibeam gift coupon worth Rs 1000. This can be used for buying any product on their online store.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Tarun