We launched DeleteMe Mobile on January 14, 2013. It hasn’t even been a month, and we’re excited to already have thousands of users!
Like our standard, web-based DeleteMe service, DeleteMe Mobile scours the Internet and assists with the removal of personal information from some of the largest U.S.-based people search databases. DeleteMe Mobile is designed to do the hard work of removing your personal info from online data brokers, so although it’s complicated behind the scenes, it’s super streamlined for the app user. You just download the app from the Apple App Store for your iPhone or iPad, provide some basic info to sign up, and then the app runs a search for you on many of the major data broker sites, returning a list of results that may be them. You can also input more information, like aliases and past addresses, to narrow results even further.
The average user finds about 8 listings. You can click and expand results, pressing a button that says “This isn’t me” to get rid of false positives or pressing “DeleteMe” to request that their listing be taken down. That listing will be added to a list of requested removals, and it’s updated whenever the listing comes down. Because DeleteMe Mobile displays all searchable records in a single dashboard, removing and monitoring private information listed on multiple websites is easy. Note that DeleteMe Mobile doesn’t delete you from the entire Internet: people tend to get confused about this point.
How DeleteMe Mobile works
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes with DeleteMe Mobile: it’s a mix of automation technology and human-powered effort. We built search technology to comb major data brokers for results, and when users request removal, we’ve automated some of those processes. In many cases, though, it comes down to our team of DeleteMe Advisors–all of whom are Boston locals and a lot of whom are law students–to do the hard work of writing emails, sending letters, and more. Then our system scans for your listings to ensure they’ve been removed. Some of that scanning is automated; some is actual huma
n effort. You don’t have to worry about any of that, though: you simply see the update in your app.
DeleteMe Mobile is free to download and comes with one free deletion. After that, it’s a $24.99 subscription for 3 months, and that comes with unlimited deletions. You can find it by searching for it in the iTunes store or the Apple app store.
Why might DeleteMe Mobile be of interest to people?
Hundreds of data brokers you’ve probably never heard of track everything people do, online and off. This collection of digital data is leading to the creation of a “digital you,” and increasingly, decisions are being made based on this version of you, like your credit scores, ability to get loans, insurance premiums, online shopping prices, and whether you’re hired.
The negative result of so much information can be something as benign as targeted marketing or embarrassment to as serious as reduced credit score ratings, loss of employment, or becoming the victim of a crime like identity theft or stalking.
Different opt-out policies and procedures at each company or data broker make it nearly impossible to efficiently manage your personal information and correct or remove it from the databases. Even worse, records often reappear, leaving a person with no choice but to start the process all over again. Some websites don’t offer individual consumers a way to opt-out or contest a record at all. DeleteMe Mobile guides people through the process to make removal simple and effective.
When people find out what’s going on with their personal information, they don’t like it. We polled 1,000 anonymous web users on Amazon about data brokers in September 2012, and 95% of people said they thought they should be able to remove their personal information from being publicly displayed on data broker sites.
Privacy should be simple: people who want it should be able to get it. You shouldn’t have to jump through complicated hoops of legalese and red tape just to control your own information. Ideally, the law would catch up to the realities of today’s digital society, but regulation is slow to act. For now, it’s up to you to take action today to protect yourself. We’ve also posted free do-it-yourself removal instructions for many of the biggest data brokers on our website at http://www.abine.com/optouts.