NNSquad - Network Neutrality Squad

NNSquad Home Page

NNSquad Mailing List Information


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[ NNSquad ] Privacy Alert: Delete yourself from "Spokeo" -- DO IT NOW!

Privacy Alert: Delete yourself from "Spokeo" -- DO IT NOW!

Here's a simple project for today -- delete yourself from "Spokeo's"
potentially privacy-invasive database.  Do it now.

Spokeo in various forms has been around for quite some time -- but is
getting a lot of new press attention lately (due mainly to privacy
concerns) so my recommendation would be to take advantage of their
(quite simple) opt-out procedure IMMEDIATELY.

This new article at ABC News gives a good overview of the Spokeo.com's
data aggregation services: http://bit.ly/bbebJP (ABC News)

Essentially, the site collects together various publicly available
data (this apparently includes both public record and commercial
data), and packages it into a nice, neat -- and perhaps in some 
cases -- easily abused format.

Simply search by name, and see a listing of all persons with matching
names throughout the U.S., then narrow down to your target via other
provided free information (such as home residence street name).

Now, in fairness to Spokeo, I'll note two additional points:

  - Much of the information appears to be inaccurate -- sometimes
    hilariously so.  In this case, that's probably a good thing.
    However, enough of the data appears to be correct to be of
    concern to many people.

  - Spokeo provides a very simple opt-out, entry removal technique
    which is instantly effective after e-mail verification.  However,
    removal at any point in time doesn't assure that you won't
    reappear in their database at some point in the future.  And of
    course, other aggregation services can still contain your
    data, as do the underlying data sources that are providing
    the raw data in the first place.

How to opt-out of Spokeo:

Go to: http://www.spokeo.com

Enter your name and locate your entry.

Copy or otherwise note the exact URL of your entry.

Go to: http://www.spokeo.com/privacy

Enter the URL you found above, a valid e-mail address, and
the captcha code.  Click on "Remove Listing" ...

You should receive an e-mail with a clickable URL to finish the
removal process, which appears to be effective immediately.

Aggregation of publicly available data (particularly public record
data, which tends to contain significant personally identifiable
information) is on what I consider to be the "bleeding edge" of
privacy policy questions.  

It is certainly true that there are public interest reasons for public
records data to be available -- but the concept of public record data
dates to a time when accessing such data was generally a
time-consuming operation, often involving visits to -- or contacts
with -- multiple agencies.

Aggregation of such data online changes the very nature of how the
data can be used in quite positive ways -- or abused in potentially
very bad ways.

This is most definitely an area in need of ongoing consideration
and study.

NNSquad Moderator