How to delete yourself from the Internet

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You cannot completely clean yourself off the Internet. Little of you will always remain, whether it’s in your data broker’s databases, on old social media you’ve forgotten about or in the back of someone else’s vacation photos on Flickr.

This is no reason to give up! You can certainly take steps to protect your privacy by cleaning things like your Google results. For the best results, you will need time, money, patience and living in a country or state with strong privacy laws.

this week Ask the help desk The question is all about data brokers: “How do I delete my information from data collectors?” asks Jennifer Swindell, from Sagel, Idaho. But first, we’ll take a step back and start with something a little more for the audience.

Checklist: What to do if you are being harassed online

Google is what most people think of when they worry about their data online. The search engine is the largest index of websites, but it is often just the messenger. Know that anything you manage to remove from the search result will likely still be on the site they host unless you make them remove it as well. You’ll want to ask these sites to remove it as well.

First, Google yourself. Keep a list of where your information appears and specifically look for anything personal, such as your address, phone number, any type of identifying details (driver’s license number), or any other information that you find inappropriate. Combine your name with your address or phone number in the search field.

Google recently added a form Where you can ask them to remove certain results or information, including explicit photos if they are fake, posted without your consent, or just randomly appear your name and not picture you. There is an option to withdraw information that can be used to dispose of you, such as identification numbers, financial information, medical records, your physical address, and other contact information.

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Now that the beautician requests are done, it’s time for the data brokers. There are hundreds of data brokers in the US, and you can find listings at institutions like Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. To get started, let’s practice with the big names like AxiomAnd the CoreLogicAnd the Data management from EpsilonAnd the EquifaxAnd the Experian. You can opt out of allowing these sites to share your data, and in some cases you can request that they be deleted. Naturally, each site has different episodes that you have to jump into, such as sending an email, filling out a form, emailing or faxing, or confirming your identity.

As with Google results, removing your information from data brokers doesn’t mean it’s still there, and asking them not to share it doesn’t mean other sites don’t actually have it. They got it from countless sources, including the apps you willingly installed on your phone, your browser or websites you visited, your shopping history and public records. The information can be used to target ads or to pop up on people-facing search sites.

Decide what to put online

The best step is to determine what information is available about you on the Internet to begin with. use Privacy Reset Guide To turn on robust privacy settings for the major apps or devices you use regularly, including your smartphone, banking, and social media sites. If you post on social media, be careful about the type of information you share and be sure to adjust your privacy settings if possible.

Privacy Reset: A guide to the important settings you should change right now

Use a privacy-focused browser and search engine, search for Global choice for privacy control or set up to prevent cross-site tracking. Avoid subscribing to anything that might result in your personal information being shared again, such as surveys. Delete any apps you don’t use (or trust) from your computer, smartphone, and tablet.

In 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect, giving state residents more options to protect and delete their data. As part of the law, companies are required to delete your personal data upon request, although you will have to confirm your identity. Some companies have gone ahead and made this option available to people who live anywhere in the US, while others only do it for California residents. (You may also request a copy of your data, or that the company does not sell your personal information, under this law.)

To get you started on your first CCPA applications, the Tatum Hunter Helpdesk has created a guide.

How do you ask a company to delete your personal data?

Use a third party service

If you didn’t know it before starting this article, now you know how much work it takes to really stay on top of deleting your personal information. There are paid services that can do a lot of the removal for you, and they’re a good option if you’re concerned about your personal safety (even if they admit some data is out of their control).

DeleteMe starts at $69 per year and offers regular checking of data brokers and websites for your personal data and requests to remove it. OneRep is a similar tool that starts at $8.33 per month. If you are concerned about identity theft, you can subscribe to Norton LifeLock. Application jumbo It tries to maximize privacy settings across apps, and it has both free and paid versions. AccountKiller is a tool for deleting your old online accounts.

There are also some centralized opt-out sites that you can visit, such as the FTC No registration required And the

Doug Macmillan contributed to this report.