You know the drill - a polling person calls you out of the blue, a debt collection agency is looking for your brother-in-law, or you start getting printed brochures for a new electric razor with suspicious frequency - all without ever remembering to have signed up your contact info and connections anywhere near those entities.
Every last bit of personal info you type in online, and everything that can be extracted from public (and not so) records about you, goes into databases operated by a few companies, which then dissect the data any way they please for the purpose of marketers, banks, or basically anybody who can pay the fee.
This phenomenon will only get more widespread, and it is not an easy task to call each and every personal data brokerage to ask them to be removed. Moreover, even when they do that, the minute something about you appears again, it can get booked automatically back, so you have to keep probing them at regular intervals.
Now there are services that aid with maintaining the most privacy you can get by pestering those online databases on your behalf at set periods of time, like Abine's DeleteMe, and recently they outed an app for iOS
, which will soon appear for Android devices as well.
The app is basically an extension to their web service, and the first entry removal request from a database is free, then you pay $24.99 each quarter for the efforts to keep your personal info out of the pot anyone can dip in. That amounts to $30 less than the annual fee you would pay for the web-based services of DeleteMe, so it all depends how badly you want out.
What the app does after you sign in, is find listings for you at the various aggregators, list the ones they found your name, or a name very close to yours in, and list the type of information this database has about you. You can then choose which entries are to be deleted from the comfort of your phone, and Abine will send a request on your behalf to the service, warning you to allow a few weeks for the claim to be processed.
We found an entry in Spokeo, for instance, the online phone book service, which we'd never authorized, and that was deleted on the free. Nothing you can't do by just Googling yourself and see where you pop up, then send requests yourself, but Abine automates the process for the lazier privacy seekers amongst us.
After the free initial request with each service, you have to pay $24.99 for the next three months, in case you find yourself being listed with another one of those pesky personal info brokerage companies. The need for a service like Abine's DeleteMe and the respective app shows how maintaining your privacy is an ongoing effort, not a one-time push, and until there is more strict regulation what can be divulged and used, and by whom, the DeleteMe app is a good way to maintain yourself outside of prying database eyes.