How to delete your personal data from the Internet
It used to be possible to control what information about you was available online. But with the widespread use of the Internet and the growth of various social media platforms, this information is not only quickly available, but also more difficult to remove.
If you’ve ever wondered if you can delete yourself from the Internet, you’re not alone. According to A 2022 research question by NordVPN:, 55% of Americans wish they could delete themselves from the Internet, and another 42% fear someone is going to hack them.
Deleting your personal information from the Internet is a complex task, and there is rarely a guarantee that anything removed will remain offline forever. But it is possible to minimize your digital footprint.
Agreed Daniel MarcusonAt NordVPN, the digital privacy expert, there are a number of steps you can take to erase your personal information.
1. Google Yourself
The first step is to understand what information is out there about you. When you share something online, you give up control over that data, so Google yourself to see what photos and personal data are out there.
According to Markuson, you can start by identifying any sites you use that will host your data, including forums and sites you personally own. Do a Google search for your information on sites that may clone or log your information so you’re familiar with what’s out there.
2. Delete, deactivate and clean up
Once you’ve followed this information, remove all the data you can and then or delete, anonymize or deactivate your accounts.
You should delete your social media profiles, especially the infamous ones Bad actors like Facebook — and if you really want to leave no trace, delete your accounts for online shopping, dating, and other services like Skype or Dropbox.
Remember, you should still remove data from apps and websites you no longer use. Also nNote that it may take some time for search engines to clear their caches, which temporarily collect and store website data.
3. Opt out of data brokers (and do it regularly)
“You must also painfully, one by one, give it up data brokersMarcuson said, referring to organizations that scrape the Internet for private information that can be sold to third parties.
When you’ve been searching on Google yourself, you may have seen your information pop up in the results popular data broker sites like Spokeo, MyLife, Whitepages, BeenVerified, Intelius and others that create online profiles of people.
There are tools like: delete me that help remove your information from data brokers. DeleteMe offers free opt-out guide to help you request removal of information Most of these sites, but it’s annoying that you’ll have to configure each of them separately if you do it yourself.
Data is usually updated on most data broker sites three monthsso you should also check them regularly to stay on track.
Alternatively, you can create a DeleteMe membership for approx $129 per year. The company can help remove you from over 30 of the top US data broker sites and continue to do so for as long as your subscription lasts. When you sign up for DeleteMe, you can choose the number of people—yourself plus family members or business associates, for example—and how many years you want to include in your subscription.
If you have found information on UK or EU platforms, consider registering Incognito, which can remove your data from over 130 data brokers for about $70 a year. Before you choose a service, do your research on how many data broker sites it reaches and compare price points.
Gal RingelCEO of Mine, a focused all-in-one privacy suite data privacy rights, also recommends seeking professional help if these steps are difficult for you to manage alone. Mine says it works as a personalized “smart data assistant” to help discover and manage your data online.
“Saymine.com helps you minimize your digital risks by allowing you to identify all companies that hold your personal data and the risks associated with it, and allows you to send formal data deletion requests to companies,” Ringel said of his product, which now it’s free, but it has. a premium version planned for the future.
“If you find your personal information on other sites, you can always send a request to delete them in the hope that they will follow through,” he added.
If they don’t, Google also has tools and processes to help you delete unwanted results from the web,” Marcusson said.
These methods are not permanent solutions, but are intended to minimize your online presence. You can set yourself a quarterly reminder to go through these steps and checks again.
4. If necessary, resort to legal remedies
There are also some legal actions that need to be taken when content is online without your consent. With measures like the General Data Protection Regulation Consumer Privacy Act in Europe and California In the US, there are legal rights to protect data and consequences in the event of a breach.
“Examples of legal action abound GDPR and: CCPA PenaltiesRingel said. If an organization fails to protect an individual’s personal information, it can face serious penalties.
Recently, for example, cosmetics giant Sephora was fined 1.2 million dollars because it did not disclose that it was selling consumers’ personal information and did not honor requests to opt out of those sales. If you need to take legal action to remove information from the Internet, contact an attorney for assistance.
You should be empowered to use the Internet on your own terms, while remaining diligent and careful about how your information is presented online.