Week 19 discussion

Look for your personal info on data broker websites and try to remove it. Talk about what you
learned. Here are some data broker opt-out links:
● Did you find your data on other sites? What was the opt-out process like?

I’m really interested about what comes back in the epsilon report–they said they’ll mail it. I had done a few of these last spring, so there wasn’t anything on me in a few. I found it interesting how many of them are apparently the same company, because the opt-out form is exactly the same. Here are a few more:


Back in the spring when I did a bunch of these, I had contacted mylife.com and got this response (emphasis added)

Dear Claire,

Thank you for contacting MyLife™ Customer Care.

We appreciate your Inquiry about the information on MyLife.com. The information on each profile page is gathered from public sources, which can be easily found online using a simple Google search. This information will not be removed as these types of information are considered “public records” under the law, which means that anyone has the right to access them.

I especially wanted to get that taken down, because they seem to be ranked pretty high in Google results. This week I tried again. They don’t have a form, so you have to email them. I cited their privacy policy this time in the email:

Opt-Out Rights
You can sign into your account to see or delete any personally identifiable information we have stored, such as your name, address, email or phone number. You can also contact us by email to request to see or delete this information.

You can stop future collection of information by the Application easily by uninstalling the Application. You may use the standard uninstall processes as may be available as part of your mobile device or via the mobile application marketplace or network. You can also request to opt-out via email, at privacy@mylife.com. Please allow sufficient time for us to process your request.

This time it seems to have worked because they said:

We have removed your information from MyLife.com, please allow 7-10 business days for your information on MyLife.com to be completely removed from major search engine results.

wow, what a response. I wonder if there’s any kind of official policy behind this. this is the sort of thing that I’d show to an EFF lawyer for feedback.

How can we protect our communities from doxing?

I have been thinking about this question in relation to what documents out there are actually public, since data broker websites cull their information from public records. While people may have been more informed about public records in the past, I’m not sure that is common knowledge any more. Over ten years ago, I worked the front desk for a legal publisher. In addition to answering phones and routing boring communication, I also had to receive payment when people had to publish a fictitious business name change, or their name change. In particular, I was surprised to learn that we were requiring people to pay to publish their process with gender.

If I have the opportunity to work with my community on doxing, I think I would start with a brief overview of what kinds of public documents are out there, how people can obtain these for themselves, and then get to a conversation about how these data broker websites pull those public record details together to assemble a bigger picture of you for purchase online. I would then talk about some of the major websites that do and how to find the fine print that explains how to remove your information. I would explain that this removal process isn’t a one and done situation, and how it has to be repeated over time. I think I would also include a conversation about Freedom of Information requests (what they are and how to do them), but also talk about how this could potentially lead to doxing. Still haven’t figured out the one-off workshops that don’t fit into our current information literacy curriculum, but it’s gonna happen :slight_smile:

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