It is very easy to agree without thinking, to companies storing or sharing your preferences and other personal information. A few searches on Google and you click ‘Allow all’ or Accept’ without missing a beat.
But if you stopped and thought for a moment, just how many companies have your personal data? And what data exactly? According to a Statista survey, only 12.5% of respondents weren’t concerned about the storing of their personal data. Yet, an overwhelmingly high number of people has not started removing their personal information from the internet, which is something the most people should do.
Examples of PII (Personal Identifiable Information) that data brokers can store about you include:
- Name, age, gender, race
- Past and current addresses
- Financial and health information
- Sexual orientation
- National Insurance/Social Security number
- Passwords/email addresses/phone numbers
- Internet browsing history
What is a data broker?
Data brokers are businesses that find and collect information on individuals from a number of sources – for example, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, public and electoral records. Their aim is to process the information to ensure it is worth licensing and then sell it publicly to other organizations.
How can this be avoided?
Think about some of the ways you put your PII (Personal Identifiable Information) and that of your family, online:
- Email accounts
- Social Media
- Online Shopping sites
- Shopping loyalty schemes
Read on for some tips on how to keep your information as private as possible.
1. Remove personal information from Google
Every time you type a search topic into Google or submit any personal information to buy products or services, your data is being collected and stored.
You can request that information is removed, but Google can refuse, as they evaluate requests before deciding whether to agree or not.
2. Clean up or delete your email accounts/social media accounts
It is unlikely to expect that people will be willing to close down their social media. But paying a bit more attention to what information you are showing to the world will make a massive difference in keeping your personal information, personal.
When you think how many accounts you have created over the years, it’s not a good thought to realize that your personal information could still be stored somewhere.
3. Use decoy personal information
Unless it’s a situation where you are legally required to use your real information, there is no reason why you can’t set up a different email address and name when signing up to use websites, storing all unwanted communication as spam.
4. Cancel your shopping loyalty programs
Loyalty programs store your shopping history and sell it on to data brokers. So, if you can bear to forgo the savings, shutting down your accounts will make it easier to keep your personal information secure.
5. Opt out of Data Broker sites
You can send manual data removal requests to the data brokers that hold your information, or opt out. They are likely to collect it again, so it can become a regular chore. If you don’t want to have to do this manually on a regular basis, you can find automated data removal services that do it for you.