Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Keeping Your Online Information Private

Throughout history, gold, silver, salt, precious stones, and fancy pieces of paper have all at one time or another acted as currency, or mediums of exchange.  But at any point in time, the wealthiest of men had something more valuable than the possession of currency, because real wealth comes not from the ground.  Real wealth is based on real power, and real power is based on knowledge.

Today knowledge, power, and wealth are based on information, as data brokers make billions of dollars selling information about you.  And yes, when I say "you" I mean the person reading this article.  The nine largest data brokers have accumulated over 500 million detailed records on everyday people.

Five. Hundred. Million.

Recently, Congress asked these companies how and where they are getting this consumer information, and to whom they are selling.  But none of these data brokers answered the questions directly.  Instead they hemmed, hawed, basically refusing to name their sources.

When I learned about this, I decided to do the only thing I could do.  I spent yesterday morning removing myself from as many data aggregators as I could.  I started by reading "How to Remove Yourself from Background Check site BeenVerified.com"  This post gives detailed instructions on how to remove yourself from several intrusive websites.  Only WhitePages.com have changed how to opt out; now you must make an account and then update your information to hide it all and refuse to allow them to sell it.  This is also how to opt out on People Smart - you need to go here and sign up for an account to remove yourself from their online searches.

I strongly recommend that you google for your name and location, and see what comes up.   The amount of data available on me surprised me, and I expected to find some of it.  Then think about removing your data from the data brokers.  It might not seem to make a difference, but if enough people do this, we just might impact the world in the long run.


  1. Okay, does it also strike you as insane that at some places you have to give them information in order to get them to hide your information??


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