There's more to protecting your privacy online than turning off your Spokeo profile

A shadow of a hand over a computer keyboard symbolizes online crime.

There's a profile up there for you right now on Spokeo, probably, unless you're like a lot of people and you've taken it down. Facebook feeds everywhere have been filled with people sharing information on how to opt out of being listed on Spokeo.

Ryan Calo is with The Stanford Center for Internet and Society. He says Spokeo grabs this stuff off the web by scraping all sorts of information that's out there about everyone. Things like real estate transactions, telephone listings, social media, online photo albums, census data. It's not illegal, but rarely do you see all that data gathered together. It can be unnerving to see it all in one place, especially with a map overlay.

Spokeo lets you hide your profile but that doesn't always work right away. And if you move and start creating new data, a new profile might show up. Intentionally or not, we're pouring new information on to the Internet all the time.

Michael Fertik is CEO of Reputation.com; they sell privacy protection services. He says you can recapture some of your privacy, stuff the toothpaste back in the tube as it were. But to really be undetectable and anonymous online requires a much greater effort, stuff like not ever filling out warranty cards, skipping all those saver cards at grocery stores, and strenuously guarding yourself online. Because Spokeo is not a lone phenomenon. There are dozens of sites just like it that you've never even heard of and it's going to be difficult to fight all of them.

Also in this show, a new translation app from Google lets you have a conversation in real time with someone who speaks a completely different language. Imagine the possibilities.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...