Remove Personal Information From the Internet
by Bill Rounds
How to Vanish
by Bill Rounds: Colorado
vs. Amazon: Who Wins In a Fight?
and internet ink are very similar. A lot of people are getting tattoos
and putting their personal information on the internet. But, both
tattoos and information on the internet are regrettably hard to
remove. Even good ol' Mark
Zuckerberg is finding out the hard way that making some personal
information public might be a bad idea.
popular trend is, there will always be some people who aren't fond
of permanent identifying marks. But what can you do if you have
made a few foolish mistakes in the past and you need to remove personal
information from the internet? Fortunately, it is a lot less painful
some of your personal information from the internet than it
is to remove a Mike Tyson Special.
Go To The
info from online profiles is an obvious first step, but there are
a lot of websites that share or sell your data without your knowledge.
There are ways to clean up a lot of that information too.
There are more
websites that will share or sell your private data than anyone would
like to count. A lot of the internet is just a big echo chamber.
For every website with original content there are tons of other
sites copying and repeating what was said before. If you want to
take down information, focus on removing it from those sources.
This narrows down your action to a few, rather than hundreds, of
Acxiom are two big data aggregators that are the biggest source
for most other websites that share sensitive information on the
internet. Removing your information from Intelius or Acxiom will
effectively remove it from most other websites too. You may still
want to remove personal information from other sites too, just to
be on the safe side.
The Sites Directly
allow you to remove data like address, phone number, and social
security number. Every company has a different method and you need
to follow their own procedures. They might let you do it online,
they might make you do it through the mail. Lots of times they will
want you to provide more personal information to prove who you are
to remove your information. Here is a list of the main sites where
your information might be found with a link to remove your info.
You might want to check each one to see how much of your own personal
information shows up.
Information From The Internet
The Symptom, Not The Problem
from any of these sites, even Intelius or Acxiom, is like removing
an unwanted tattoo. It is much better to avoid the tattoo in the
first place than to try to remove it later. Plus, there are no guarantees
that you can even remove it completely. The only way to do that
is to know how your information gets in those databases in the first
place, and prevent it from ever showing up there.
These Sites Get All Of This Info
All of these
websites collect your information from a lot of places like your
online profiles (Facebook, linkedin, match.com, etc.) public records
(property ownership records, court proceedings, census data, etc.)
job application or résumé sites, credit reporting agencies, smartphone
apps, entering a sweepstakes to get free stuff, and lots of other
sources that they won't even tell you about. Data is valuable and
most organizations that get it, sell it. Selling your information
is what made Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire.
Personal Information From Showing Up On The Internet
There are lots
of ways to prevent information from ever showing up in these public
sources, and from showing up online. The best way is to leave personal
information blank whenever you are asked to provide it. When you
must share information, use a ghost address, pre-paid
cell phones, a business
entity, and other anonymizing techniques you can find in the
removal, removing personal information from the internet is not
perfect. Traces of your personal information online may remain for
a very long time. If you already have some unwanted informational
tattoos, its not too late. The sooner you get started removing personal
information from the internet, the better off you will be.
with permission from How to
Rounds, J.D. is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting
from the University of Utah and a law degree from California
Western School of Law. He practices civil litigation, domestic
and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal
defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and
financial freedom and civil liberties.
© 2011 How
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