Spokeo is a data miner which grabs stuff from here, there and everywhere and cobbles it together in a hodgepodge mess of a ‘profile’.
Then it sells this personal information, completely inaccurate though it may be, to anyone who cares to pony up.
I discovered the ‘data’ in the intro by entering Emma’s email in Spokeo, which “cares about data privacy”.
That’s why it’s “partnered with ReputationDefender, a “leading privacy protection agency, to help you control and remove your information on hundreds of other people search sites.”
ReputationDefender’s primary, raison d’être?
“We find and remove your personal data from sites that sell it.”
Like Spokeo, you mean?
To give you an idea of how (in)effective the latter is, despite my entreaties, Emma has yet to start even one blog, let alone 15, and updates are when she makes arrangements to meet one of her friends for a sleepover, or similar.
Not only but also, “Company CEO Michael Fertik has criticized review websites that don’t monitor comments or require users to register”, says a post on the Wikipedia.
Michael who has done what?
Yesterday, p2pnet posted that she’s filed a complaint with the FCC because “If a site tells us that a profile is removed, it should damned well stay removed”, she declared, also stating >>>
Knowing that I had already removed my family’s profiles from Spokeo in March 2010, I idly checked the site over the weekend- only to discover that all of the profiles I had removed were back.
“I’ve yet to hear back from Spokeo, but will file an FTC complaint if I don’t get a satisfactory answer on this”, said Dissent, stating in an update. “Spokeo did not respond to my complaint that deleted profiles had reappeared. Once again, it took me more than a week to remove all family profiles. I have filed a complaint today with the FTC about deceptive practices under Title 5. As a matter of privacy, I should be able to delete a profile from a site and know that it will stay deleted.”
Now, “Over on Forbes, privacy blogger Kashmir Hill discusses complaints about Spokeo – including yours truly’s FTC complaint about the fact that deleted profiles reappeared”, says Pogo Was Right, going on >>>
Unlike yours truly, who still has not gotten any response from Spokeo to my direct complaint/inquiry to them, Kashmir was able to get a response from them:
A Spokeo spokesperson says: “When you choose to opt out, we place a permanent flag on your listing so that it does not ever reappear on Spokeo.com. We are constantly receiving new and updated listings, and we try very hard to match these new listings to the existing ones and preserve your privacy preference. However, a computer cannot know the difference between “John Smith at 1234 Nowhere Street” and “John Smith at 5678 Somewhere Avenue”, though you may know that you moved. So if a new listing contains your new address, or if there are significant typos which prevent our computers from matching an existing listing, you will see a new listing for your name. We are constantly improving our matching algorithms in order to maintain your privacy. Spokeo guarantees that our opt out policy is among the best on the Internet.”
If that were the case, I could understand it, but these were the identical names and same addresses as in the previously deleted profiles.
And to those who say “don’t blame the aggregator,” I do hold Spokeo accountable for making information freely and too easily available to the curious. While the information they provide may be in public records or other records somewhere, I doubt if my patients or a few misguided souls who are obsessed with me would spend time digging for personal information on me. But look, they can go to a web site and conveniently and freely find out my husband’s name, my children’s names and ages, and other details and then start Googling my children’s names and my husband’s name? No, thanks.
I blog pseudoanonymously partly to keep my clinical work separate from my privacy advocacy. I also keep some my family’s details private from my patients – as most mental health professionals try to do, to varying degrees. I removed my family’s profiles from Spokeo in March and I do not appreciate Spokeo making them available yet again. As I’ve said before, if a company tells us that we can opt out and we choose to opt out, we should stay opted out or at least they should be transparent and say that profiles may reappear. Maybe when Congress is done with DoNotTrack, we can get a DoNotProfile to add to the collection.
“In the meantime”, says Dissent, “get your act together, Spokeo, because I intend to stay on this and if those profiles reappear yet again, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do — and not just to the FTC.”
Said p2pnet regular Marc in an email following yesterday’s Spokeo post:
“What Dissent of PogoWasRight has to do is buy RepuationDefender’s Pro Package (which is geared for the medical field) for $3,000 and they will fix Spokeo, their partner site, for her.
“People Like Jon, who runs p2pnet.net, can buy the MyEdge package for $99 a year to keep his daughter off Spokeo.
“Put your past and present data into ReputationDefenders database and that’s that! No one will know who you are.
“That is, until Spokeo re-generates your profiles again … ”
Pogo Was Right – Spokeo Draws Ire (and FTC Complaints) from Privacy Advocates for its Zombie Profiles
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
World War III will be a global information war with no division between civilian & military participation ~ Marshall McLuhan
Net access blocked by government restrictions? Use Psiphon from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. Go here for details.