8 STEPS TO LIMIT YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
“You could sit at home and do like, absolutely nothing and your name goes through like 17 computers a day… We have no names man, No names.”
That’s a quote from the movie Hackers back in 1995, but if ever there was a time it was more appropriate, it’s now. What with the advent of Cloud storage and services, our data is passing through more computers than ever.
For the most paranoid of us, here are some (drastic) ways for you to reduce your online footprint. Think of them as your digital tin foil hat.
The first and simplest thing to do would be to delete the accounts you don’t use. If deleting your account isn’t an easy option, change your contact details to something else (a quick Google search and some imagination will easily help with this).
CANCEL ALL MAILING LISTS
Remember all those mailing lists you signed up for just so you could take part in some lucky draw? You want to go through your email folders (including the junk and deleted mail folders) to unsubscribe from each and every one. On that note, stop entering lucky draws online if you want to keep your details private!
RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN
If you’ve exhausted every option and you live in Europe, then try writing to Google direct and make a “right to be forgotten” request.
Already, more than 144,907 requests have been made to Google to take down links to specific search results on some 497,507 different webpages - all because the European Union Court of Justice ruled on 13 May 2014 that Europeans had the right to ask search engines to remove links to search results where “the interests in those results appearing are outweighed by the person’s privacy rights”.
An automated form has been set up to facilitate the process, but it’s important to note that Google cannot remove the content itself; only the search result links to it. For now, the ruling is only being upheld in the European Union but people with privacy concerns would do well to watch if it the “right to be forgotten” is eventually extended worldwide
SEARCH YOURSELF (AND DELETE THE RESULTS)
Can’t remember what forums you’ve signed up for any more? Try Googling yourself and see what comes up. Then get to work removing yourself from what comes up. Contact the websites that have you featured (presumably in a bad light) and ask them to remove the offending article. If that fails, try contacting the webmaster for their host server. Another thing to try is the search engine on pipl.com which pulls up a surprising amount of information based just on your name and location.