Watchman Privacy

44 – Data Brokers and People Search Websites Are Selling Your Data

Gabriel Custodiet talks to the creator of about people search websites and other data brokers. These are websites that collect, buy, and otherwise acquire the ample data that we expose on a daily basis: from social media posts to public housing records to mobile phone behavior. This episode covers all of the basics about these websites, including where they get their data, how they operate, and how to remove oneself from them. This is a definitive introduction to one of the biggest but least examined privacy dangers that we face today.

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0:00 – Beginning 2:01 – Where do they get their data? 4:51 – How does website “scraping” work? 6:19 – The three types of data brokers 9:00 – How is all of this legal? 10:23 – Disturbing personal data on websites 13:02 – Dangers of having information on people search sites 17:50 – How many people search websites are there? 18:30 – What are their motivations? 20:13 – Are these sites primarily targeting Americans? 20:48 – Getting off of call lists and mailing lists 21:48 – Other insight into data brokers 23:48 – How can we prevent future data exposure? 25:42 – Particularly offensive companies 26:12 – Solutions for VPN blocks 26:57 – Should we opt out ourselves? 31:36 – Details of 33:50 – Pricing and plans 36:52 – What information does MyDataRemoval ask for? 39:20 – Do people search websites truly opt you out? 41:20 – How does MyDataRemoval protect customer data? 43:03 – Background of the founder 44:49 – James’ cybersecurity and privacy advice