US 5884270 Method and system for facilitating an employment search incorporating user-controlled anonymous communications

ABSTRACT – A system for facilitating employment searches using anonymous communications includes a plurality of party terminals, a plurality of requestor terminals, and a central controller. The system receives and stores employment data about prospective employment candidates. Upon receiving criteria for candidates of interest from an employer and authorization from the candidates, the central controller releases to the employer the employment data associated with the candidates. The system also establishes communications channels between the employer and the candidates, while maintaining their anonymity.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to establishing anonymous communications between two or more parties. More specifically, the invention relates to controlling the release of confidential or sensitive information of at least one of the parties in

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a communications method and system that obviates problems due to limitations and disadvantages of the prior art.

A goal of the invention is to provide a communication system incorporating a central database of information supplied by one or more of parties and managed by a central administrator, where all parties to the system can manage and control the release of any or all information about themselves or their identities, and where such a system allows for electronic-based communications between the parties without the necessity of revealing the identity of either party.

Another goal of the invention to allow parties to submit criteria for searching a trusted agent’s confidential database and receive a count of the number of records that satisfy the criteria, without revealing the identities of the parties associated with those records.

A further goal of the invention is to allow a system administrator to send a request for authorization to release information about a party to a searching party.

Other goals of the invention are to provide a system that encrypts communications between parties to maintain the anonymity of the parties; to authenticate searchable information contained in a central database for release to parties; to allow one or both parties to receive compensation for contributing or maintaining information accessible in a database; and to allow one party to apply a customized scoring algorithm to information contained about other parties in a database.

Still other goals of this invention are to provide a system for a trusted agent to act as an anonymous remailer or communicate via e-mail or other electronic means with specific outside parties requested or identified by one of the parties to validate information about the parties.

Yet another goal of the invention is to be able to store and authenticate such information that may be provided by outside parties in a central database while allowing the outside parties to retain control over the release of respective information to other parties.

This invention meets these goals by allowing a party to maintain effective control over the timing and release of certain information stored in a database, including the party’s identity and other relevant data about the party, to another party. This controlled release of identity can be performed gradually in a series of steps where the party authorizes release of more and more information. The invention also authenticates information stored in the database before releasing the information, thereby improving the reliability of the released information. Finally, the invention establishes a communications channel between a party and a requestor while not necessarily revealing the identity of the party and/or the requestor to each other. The controlled release of information in the invention allows for new improvements in the quality of the communication process when one party to the process would suffer significant costs or be exposed to significant risks if their identity were released prematurely or indiscriminately.

According to the present invention, a method and system is disclosed for operating a computer system to facilitate an exchange of identities between two anonymous parties. The method and system are operative to receive from a first party first data including an identity of the first party and to receive from the first party at least two first-party rules for releasing the first data including a rule for releasing the identity of said first party. The system and method are further operative to receive from a second party a search request comprising at least one search criterion; receive from the second party second data including an identity of the second party; and receive from the second party at least two second-party rules for releasing the second party data including a rule for releasing the identity of the second party.

The system and method are further operative to process said search request to determine if the first data satisfies the search criterion and if so, then exchanging the first and second data, except the identities of the first and second parties, between the first and second parties in accordance with the first-party and second-party rules. The system and method are further operative to transmit the identity of the first party to the second party after the exchanging step, upon satisfying the first-party rule for releasing the identity of the first party, and after the exchanging step, upon satisfying the second-party rule for releasing the identity of the second party, transmitting the identity of the second party to the first party.

 

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