Geri Agalia doesn’t appear to leave less of a data trail than most Americans. She has a phone in her name, a bank account, utility bills, a mortgage and a credit card. But the stay-at-home mom and part-time student is among a select and ever-shrinking group of the digitally privileged — her name does not appear on Google.

“I just value my privacy,” says Agalia, who lives in San Diego. “And I think that the government and corporations already know too much about people for the benefit of marketing.”

As the internet makes greater inroads into everyday life, more people are finding they’re leaving an accidental trail of digital bread crumbs on the web — where Google’s merciless crawlers vacuum them up and regurgitate them for anyone who cares to type in a name. Our growing Googleability has already changed the face of dating and hiring, and has become a real concern to spousal-abuse victims and others with life-and-death privacy needs.

Even those in the know can find their Google search results jarring: When, last July, a CNET journalist reported information on Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s personal and financial life gleaned from search results, Google issued a retaliatory ban on employees talking to the publication, which was only lifted last week.

But despite Google’s inarguable power to dredge up information, some people have succeeded — either by luck, conscious effort or both — in avoiding the search engine’s all-seeing eye.

These unGoogleables don’t post online, blog, publish or build web pages using their own names. They’re careful about revealing information to businesses, belong to few organizations that can leak personal data, and never submit online résumés — all common ways that Google captures your data. They spoke to Wired News only on condition that their names be changed for this story.

By Ann Harrison

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