Most common ways your personal data wind up on the Internet
There’s a lot to do if you want to remove all of your personal information from the Internet.
Biggest data aggregators
There are a lot of online sources for getting personal information. But most data aggregators get their online data from just a couple of companies, either Acxiom or Intelius. Those are two companies that do the most as far as collecting data and putting it on the Internet as a source point for information. Pretty much everyone else, who gathers personal information, gets it from those two companies.
Root of the problem
Just removing the information from the Internet like Facebook or data aggregators like Acxiom or Intelius is really only addressing the symptom, it’s not addressing the problem. The problem is the way your information is getting onto the Internet in the first place.
The fact that you have private personal information gathered from a lot of other sources is what makes your information end up on the Internet to be searchable by pretty much anyone in the world. If you don’t prevent those original sources from gathering that information in the first place every piece of online data that you remove from Acxiom or Intelius is just going to be replaced within the matter of days, weeks, maybe months by other places where your information is being collected in the first place anyway.
Major sources of personal info
Here are some of the major sources that the online information brockers get your personal info from.
Obviously the biggest are the social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and others. Those are Mark Zuckerberg and friends make their money by selling your information. They are collecting as much as they can and they are selling as much as they can.
Public records are a big way that people collect your information and a lot of time that is how it ends up online. Public records might be public property ownership records or court documents.
Other big contributors
Dating sites like match dot com and friendfinder. Places that people might not think about are resume sites. When you upload a resume, a lot of times they will import the email address, phone number, street address and other info with your name.
Credit reporting agencies also give some of the information to the online data aggregators.
Smart phone apps collect plenty of personal data and they will sell it or share it. And there are lots of other places that collect your data and don’t tell you about it.
How to remove your data
Fortunately, both Acxiom and Intelius can be contacted and allow you to remove a lot of the personal information that they have collected about you. You can’t remove everything but you can remove a lot of it. The unfortunate thing is you need to provide them with lot of documentation and prove that you are the person that you say you are in order to remove the information from the Internet. So, it can be a pain but there is something that can be done.
The best way to stop all that is to stop it at the source!
Those are ways that your information is collected in the first place, which then ultimately ends up online. So even if you remove from it online and you go to the grocery store and participate in a survey and give some of your personal info in it, your information is going to wind up on the Internet eventually anyway.
When you provide information to anyone, whether it is a company providing services or whether it is participating in a survey or getting some free stuff, do use ghost email addresses, use prepaid cell phone numbers. You can use a pseudonym in a lot of cases. Sometimes just limiting the amount of personal information you give to those companies and those services, can help limit the amount of your data that is available on the Internet.