You probably want to know how personal data is collected, used online, and what you can do to delete yourself from the internet.
The number of data breaches has increased dramatically in the United States over the past decade, from 662 in 2010 and more than a thousand by 2020. However, there has been no significant change in the number of data exposures (also called data leaks).
BeenVerified, Whitepages, Spokeo, and many more data brokers provide detailed background reports that include information such as contact information, addresses, and properties. They can also include court and criminal records and liens. Accessing the database will generally cost you a small fee, which varies depending on how much information is requested. These services are used regularly by journalists, private investigators, and law enforcement. Ex-spouses, stalkers, and other people who want to invade your privacy use these services as well.
You can delete any unnecessary data from the Internet using an online reputation service if you are uncomfortable with the information.
How does your information end up on the internet?
Nothing is really private when you're online. To collect information about yourself, all you need to do is go to a website or use your phone to access it.
Websites can collect personal information by keeping a record of your computer's ID and your Internet Protocol address. These unique numbers are specific to your computer and can be traced back.
- IP address
- Website Cookies
One example is location-based marketing, which uses tracking technologies like the IP address of an internet-connected device (and any other devices it interacts with) to create a personal data profile. This data targets users' devices with relevant, hyper-personalized advertising.
This includes scraping mortgage records, voter records, credit history, and more. Verifies property ownership and mortgage ownership on land and houses in official records. Once your information is scraped, you have to also worry about data breaches.
Government website scraping
There are a number of companies providing court records extraction and criminal records extraction services to sell to clients as “leads”.
In one example, we found a company that used database scraping to collect the information of people with criminal records returning to the workforce after release, they collected and sold millions of records from District of Columbia Courts.
Different types of consumer data that businesses collect
There are four types of consumer data that businesses can collect:
- Personal data. These include personally identifiable information like Social Security numbers, gender, and web browser cookies.
- Engagement data. This data shows how customers interact with businesses' websites, mobile apps, text messaging, social media pages, email, paid ads, and customer service routes.
- Behavioral information. This category contains transactional details like purchase histories, product usage information, and qualitative data (e.g. mouse movement information).
- Attitudinal Data. This type of data includes metrics on consumer satisfaction and purchase criteria.
Your right to privacy
California has announced new rules for companies that are subject to the California Consumer Privacy Act. These rules prohibit companies from using "unethical tactics" on their websites, which can be confusing to a consumer who wants to opt-out of the sale of their personal data. It is also easier to request assistance from a third party under the rules.
Many of the largest businesses, such as Netflix, Microsoft, and Starbucks, have extended CCPA rights to all Americans, not just Californians. This makes sense. It adds work for companies to verify where people live. It's not a good image for them to claim that they respect customer privacy, and then discriminate against Americans living outside of California.
How to delete yourself from the internet
Opt-Out of People Search Websites
People-search websites are only one part of the data broker market. This industry also includes companies that create dossiers on individuals to facilitate marketing targeted to individuals, and companies that verify identities to detect fraud.
People-search sites pose a special risk. These sites make it easier for stalkers and people who want to harass you to call or visit your home. They can also facilitate identity theft. They can also reveal information to potential employers and others that you prefer to keep private.
Although you may not be able to keep your information secret, it is possible to make it harder for people to find it by cleaning it off search engines. This is not an easy task, but it can be done. You may also find that information will reappear after being deleted. This should be considered a regular maintenance task and not a project.
Update privacy settings
Privacy setting allows you to indicate whether you consent to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. It is important that privacy settings be set to a level you feel comfortable with for all social media accounts, online services, and devices.
Use an anonymous email
Anonymous e-mail allows senders to conceal their identity information while they are sending messages. These services are intended to keep the recipient in the dark about the sender's identity.
This is a growing problem. Internet users are at risk of identity thieves and hackers because there are so many tools and techniques today. An anonymous email service can be used to prevent the loss of information or personal data.
Use a VPN
A VPN has many benefits. Businesses can use a VPN to protect their networks. An application or website may track your online activity without your knowledge. The data can be used to target you with advertisements and they can analyze it. You may be subject to pop-up advertisements that interrupt your browsing experience or cause inconvenience.
A VPN can prevent software and people from accessing your internet connection. It makes it anonymous and secure to transmit and receive information.
A VPN can hide your private information, which is one of the many benefits. Hackers have many ways to access sensitive information that you submit on websites. They can use that information to try to impersonate your bank accounts and credit card information. You can however enjoy high-level security with a VPN. All your online communications will look garbled and unintelligible to anyone who can intercept them.
Use a private browser
Many browsers, including Firefox and Chrome, offer Incognito. This is the most popular form of private browsing. It's often thought to be anonymous browsing. These sessions erase browsing history and cookies at your session's end, which is partly true. This information is deleted only from your computer, and not from any other places.
Private browsing is great if you want to hide your activities from other computer users. Private browsing can be a great help if you are looking for a gift for your wife, and suddenly need to search on your computer for it. Your history was deleted so she won't see any targeted ads about shower bombs in her (nonexistent!) search history. Private browsing allows you to log into another person's accounts without having to log them out.
Use a private search engine
Google and Bing are not available for private search engines. You can use DuckDuckGo or StartPage as an alternative. They do not store or track your information. Each search engine offers its own benefits and tools to make your search more secure. These tools are great for stopping advertisers from following your search history.
Private search engines have one disadvantage: your desired results may not appear in the first search. These search engines can deliver results that are not localized, which can cause some frustration when trying to find a paper supplier near your company's headquarters. You may need to click a few more times to find your answer due to a lack of functionality such as image search or news search.
Is it possible to completely delete yourself from the internet?
The only way to delete yourself from the internet is if you have no record that you ever existed. If you have any type of public record, you will always have the information somewhere on the internet. However, with a little effort, you can make it extremely difficult to find.
If you are committed to keeping your personal information online private, follow the steps listed above and you will see positive results quickly. Keep in mind that it requires hours of work to opt out and delete all of your personal information. If you value your time, it would greatly benefit you to have a trusted information removal company monitor and report your results. For more information on deleting yourself from the internet, contact us today for a free consultation.
There are 100+ websites that collect and display your information on the internet. To opt out of all data brokers and receive monthly monitoring and privacy reporting, Reputation Privacy is ready to help.