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November 19, 2008

Web Searches About Physicians—Reply

JAMA. 2008;300(19):2249-2250. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.658

In Reply: Dr Sinnott and Mr Joseph have listed additional measures a physician could take to remove his or her Web presence and to anonymize Web surfing habits. Some of these suggestions are straightforward to implement, such as using a post office box and blocking caller ID, but others require advanced knowledge of server configuration and are cumbersome to execute. Although these tools may be useful for some physicians, cultivating an awareness of a person's Internet presence may be more broadly useful than executing specific countermeasure strategies. In addition to the nearly impossible technical challenges associated with total removal of an individual's digital information, focusing on such measures may result in a missed opportunity to shape and enhance a physician's Web identity. Given the vastness and increasing ubiquity of personal data online, it is important to have a strategy for moving forward. We offer these steps as general guidelines for clinicians: