The issues surrounding personal data privacy on the internet and provides detailed guidance on how to erase or minimize your online footprint. Personal data, from shopping habits to voting records, is freely available online due to a lack of substantial data-privacy legislation in the US. Despite this grim reality, the author shares various strategies to protect privacy by handling data brokers, controlling social media visibility, and utilizing professional reputation management services.
- Lack of Data Privacy Legislation: Personal information, including shopping habits, family members’ names, and salaries, are easily accessible online. The US lacks robust data-privacy laws, leading to a lack of control over personal information collected by sites like Whitepages and BeenVerified.
- Voluntary Surrender of Privacy: Although users often voluntarily give away their rights to privacy by signing up for social media or online services, complicated privacy policies and a lack of viable alternatives make total privacy control difficult.
- Privacy Control Strategies: The article provides advice to readers on managing their online presence. Tips include Google-searching oneself, dealing with data brokers, defining one’s privacy comfort level, controlling social media settings, and even hiring professional reputation management services.
- Risks and Challenges of Going Offline: Deleting or minimizing one’s online presence is not only difficult but poses risks. It may create a void that allows negative content to surface more easily, or may make verification for services like Airbnb almost impossible.
- Social and Political Context: The article also touches on societal implications of privacy control, referencing Gamergate’s harassment campaigns, the Faceapp scandal, and emphasizing that privacy isn’t just about individual communication but about how one is tracked and surveilled online.