/// This App Deletes Your Personal Information From the Web
It’s nearly impossible to fully delete yourself from the Internet, but a new app from online privacy startup Abine says it will significantly cut down on your online footprint.
DeleteMeMobile — which launched for iOS devices in the Apple App Store on Monday and already has several thousand users — aims to strip your personal data from many of the largest websites that collect and sell it, including Spokeo and Intelius.
These sites collect a huge amount of information about you, from estimated net worth, religious and political affiliations, children’s names, websites visited and articles read (yikes).
“Hundreds of data brokers you’ve probably never heard of track everything people do, online and off,” Sarah Downey, Abine privacy analyst, told Mashable. “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, such as your credit scores, ability to get loans, insurance premiums, online shopping prices and whether you’re hired.”
The DeleteMe app is free to search what kind of information is out there about you and it comes with one removal from any data broker site. After that, there is a $24.99 subscription for three months with unlimited deletions. The app is similar to the company’s web-based DeleteMe service.
Here’s how the app works: After downloading it and providing some basic information to sign up, the app searches data-broker sites looking for information about you. About eight results listings will pop up for the typical user. A user can click the results by saying “This isn’t me” if it’s not a proper match or hitting “DeleteMe” to remove the data.
“That listing will be added to a list of requested removals, and it’s updated whenever the listing comes down,” Downey said.
Powering the app behind the scenes is a mix of automated 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,” she added. “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.”
Although I had initial trouble finding matches, due to using my current city location instead of my hometown, three of the five results were accurately linked to my identity. In two cases, the results creepily revealed the full names of my parents, including my mother’s maiden name and my father’s middle initial. The company told me that the revealing of my parents’ names “could just be the tip of the iceberg” as to what these data brokers have saved.
What’s also interesting is that I’ve used data-swiping services before, but Abine said it’s not rare for that information to come back again over time.
After hitting “DeleteMe” on one listing, I received a message that it could take up to a few weeks for the company to comply with my removal request. However, it was a little buggy after the removal process, as it didn’t log it under its pending section. (Abine said it is looking into the issue).
Although the app has received mixed reviews in the Apple App Store so far, Downey said — despite one review claim — information entered within the app is kept confidential.