Ama­zon ac­counts are hard to delete, Net­flix is ‘im­pos­si­ble’

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of Lon­don Po­lice, sug­gested edit­ing ac­counts so they do not in­clude your cur­rent in­for­ma­tion be­fore clos­ing them down. “If the or­gan­i­sa­tion is at­tacked, the hacker will just see your edited pro­file,” he said.

If you need help eras­ing your ac­count, he sug­gested us­ing just­delete.me, an on­line di­rec­tory. The web­site also rates how dif­fi­cult some com­pa­nies make it to delete pro­files. For ex­am­ple, it says Ama­zon and iTunes ac­counts are hard to delete and Net­flix is “im­pos­si­ble”. En­ter your email ad­dress on haveibeen­pwned.com, which re­veals if it has been in­volved in any breach and if so which com­pa­nies are con­cerned.

“Once your in­for­ma­tion is out there, it’s out there. It’s bet­ter to take mea­sures to pro­tect your de­tails be­fore a com­pany is hacked,” said Mr Freed­man. “Just be­cause a firm hasn’t been at­tacked yet it doesn’t fol­low that it never will be.”

He ad­vised peo­ple to “com­part­men­talise” their in­for­ma­tion. For ex­am­ple, you can set up a num­ber of email ad­dresses to han­dle com­mu­ni­ca­tion for dif­fer­ent ac­counts, such as bank­ing, on­line shop­ping and util­ity bills. Con­tact the firm di­rectly. If you’re un­happy with the re­sponse you can com­plain to the ICO. This should be done within three months of the last con­tact with the firm in­volved.

The ICO will in­ves­ti­gate the com­pany and ask it to sort out the problem. It will not award com­pen­sa­tion. If your com­plaint in­volves a reg­u­lated fi­nan­cial business, you may be able to seek re­dress from the Fi­nan­cial Om­buds­man Ser­vice, which is free. The om­buds­man’s role is not to de­cide if the or­gan­i­sa­tion has breached data pro­tec­tion laws, but it can look at the im­pact any breach had on the cus­tomer and or­der the firm to pay to put things right.

In May 2018 the Data Pro­tec­tion Act will be re­placed by the EU’s Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion, which will take ef­fect be­fore Brexit and re­main in force there­after, the Govern­ment has said. The main changes in­clude tougher penal­ties for breaches and tighter rules re­gard­ing when a firm must ad­mit to a breach: they will have to in­form the data pro­tec­tion au­thor­ity within 72 hours of be­com­ing aware of an in­ci­dent. Cus­tomers will have to be told with­out “un­due de­lay”.

The Govern­ment has said that con­sent given to com­pa­nies that hold per­sonal data must be ex­plicit and easy to with­draw. Get­ting your data will be sim­pler and not sub­ject to a charge. Par­ents will have to con­sent to in­for­ma­tion ser­vices for chil­dren un­der 13.

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