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Top 10 companies that mine and sell your data: opt out now

(Tech News) Data mining is increasingly frequent, and it is alarming how many companies are selling information about you; here is how to opt out of the biggest offenders’ lists.

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Who is collecting and selling your data?

By now, you know that your information is valuable and is being sold and traded in the free market. Every click is tracked, email addresses are sold, and sometimes you just want it all to stop.

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Lifehacker recently reposted a list similar to one on Reddit, detailing the top 50 companies who are mining and selling your data. Here is a look at the top ten on that list and how you can opt of MORE. All of the companies in this top ten list are data brokers, so each removal is different and in some cases, complicated.

Below is a list of where to go and what to do:

1. Ameridex

Ameridex: will process email and postal mail opt-outs where required by law. In general, this applies to police officers and other public officials. Their data is pulled from public records and is over seven years old. They will process written requests only if there is a safety issue. For applicable written opt-outs, send mail to Ameridex PO Box 193061 San Francisco CA 94119-3051. They do not block retrievals of listed telephone numbers. You must notify your telephone company to delist your telephone number.

2. BeenVerified

By visiting the site’s FAQ section, you find the steps you will need to complete to remove your information. First, you will need search the site for your own information; you can do this from the BeenVerified homepage.

After you search for yourself, you will need to send an email to: support@beenverified.com including the following information: your name (exactly as shown in your search), your age, current address (city, state, zip), previous addresses, and listed relatives. The site does say, that it does not guarantee this will permanently remove your information, as they collect data from multiple sources and constantly update. Even after you remove yourself from this list, you may want to check back again and make sure you have not reappeared.

3. Email Finder

Email Finder is a data mining company that you can remove your data from by filling out the opt-out form. Simply fill it out and you should be removed from the site. Prior to filling out the form, you may want to conduct a search to make sure there are not multiple listings of your name/email address on the site. After filling out the form, they suggest searching again to insure that your information has been successfully removed.

4. InfoPay EmailTracer

Under their Terms of Service of InfoPay EmailTracer, you can find information about opting-out, however, it is complicated. They state according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you may only opt-out if one of four conditions is present: (1) You are a state, local or federal law enforcement officer or public official and your position exposes you to a threat of death or serious bodily harm; or (2) you are a victim of identity theft; or (3) you are at risk of physical harm; or (4) you have evidence the record is incorrect or expunged. If any of these apply to you, you will need to follow the remaining five steps, which can be found here, near the bottom of the page.

5. Innovis

Innovis is perhaps the most difficult company from which to opt-out. To completely remove yourself from Innovis, complete the opt-out form. You can also call toll free (1-888-567-8688), or you can mail your request to: Consumer Assistance, P.O. Box 405, Pittsburgh, PA 15230-0495. If you opt-out online, you can also opt-out of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Opting-out online only removes your name for five years, if you wish to opt-out permanently; you will need to do so by mail. To do this, simply print the electronic opt-out form and mail it back to Innovis.

6. LocatePeople.org

Under the LocatePeople.org Privacy Policy, you will see a section entitled, “removing your information from our databases” and this is a good starting place. Just like InfoPay, there are only four conditions in which you can apply to opt-out, but if one of the four apply to you, you will need to follow the remaining steps. They require a copy of your driver’s license, along with: your full name, date of birth, aliases, current address, previous addresses, phone, and email address. You will also need details of the records you want removed, and any applicable court orders. You can also mail or fax requests as needed. It can take up to six weeks for your information to be completely removed.

7. LocatePLUS

LocatePLUS will remove your information upon sending them an email request to do so. However, the same four conditions apply. If you are a LocatePLUS client, you can change your information by logging in, but be aware LocatePLUS states, “we are prohibited from removing records of its certified users, even after they have cancelled their account. LocatePLUS is prohibited from removing the account information of its registered users from its database for record keeping purposes.” So even if one of the conditions apply; you still may not be able to remove your information successfully. LocatePLUS also receives data from third-party providers (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion), so you will need to visit these sites to insure your information is fully removed.

8. MelissaData

MelissaData.com will block the records “they have control over” in their data base if you send them a signed letter including: your full name, aliases, complete address, any former addresses going back 20 years, and date of birth. You should also include a print out of the records you wish to have removed. Mail your request to: Opt-Out/People-Finders.ws
1821 Q Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. They do not guarantee this will completely remove you from the site because of third-party information.

9. Meredith Corporation

To remove your name and postal address from lists that Meredith Corporation sells or rents to third parties for their direct marketing purposes, send your request to them in a letter addressed to: Meredith Corporation, Opt-Out Postal, Attn: Circulation, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309).

10. Merkle

Unfortunately, it is impossible to remove yourself from thie Merkle list. They state, “Merkle does not collect data directly from consumers except for information collected as part of our clients’ marketing programs.”

Opt out of even more:

If you would like to see the complete list of all fifty companies that mine and sell your data, visit StopDataMining.Me.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Tech News

Experts warn of actual AI risks – we’re about to live in a sci fi movie

(TECH NEWS) A new report on AI indicates that the sci fi dystopias we’ve been dreaming up are actually possible. Within a few short years. Welp.

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Long before artificial intelligence (AI) was even a real thing, science fiction novels and films have warned us about the potentially catastrophic dangers of giving machines too much power.

Now that AI actually exists, and in fact, is fairly widespread, it may be time to consider some of the potential drawbacks and dangers of the technology, before we find ourselves in a nightmarish dystopia the likes of which we’ve only begun to imagine.

Experts from the industry as well as academia have done exactly that, in a recently released 100-page report, “The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, Mitigation.”

The report was written by 26 experts over the course of a two-day workshop held in the UK last month. The authors broke down the potential negative uses of artificial intelligence into three categories – physical, digital, or political.

In the digital category are listed all of the ways that hackers and other criminals can use these advancements to hack, phish, and steal information more quickly and easily. AI can be used to create fake emails and websites for stealing information, or to scan software for potential vulnerabilities much more quickly and efficiently than a human can. AI systems can even be developed specifically to fool other AI systems.

Physical uses included AI-enhanced weapons to automate military and/or terrorist attacks. Commercial drones can be fitted with artificial intelligence programs, and automated vehicles can be hacked for use as weapons. The report also warns of remote attacks, since AI weapons can be controlled from afar, and, most alarmingly, “robot swarms” – which are, horrifyingly, exactly what they sound like.

Read also: Is artificial intelligence going too far, moving too quickly?

Lastly, the report warned that artificial intelligence could be used by governments and other special interest entities to influence politics and generate propaganda.

AI systems are getting creepily good at generating faked images and videos – a skill that would make it all too easy to create propaganda from scratch. Furthermore, AI can be used to find the most important and vulnerable targets for such propaganda – a potential practice the report calls “personalized persuasion.” The technology can also be used to squash dissenting opinions by scanning the internet and removing them.

The overall message of the report is that developments in this technology are “dual use” — meaning that AI can be created that is either helpful to humans, or harmful, depending on the intentions of the people programming it.

That means that for every positive advancement in AI, there could be a villain developing a malicious use of the technology. Experts are already working on solutions, but they won’t know exactly what problems they’ll have to combat until those problems appear.

The report concludes that all of these evil-minded uses for these technologies could easily be achieved within the next five years. Buckle up.

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Tech News

Daily Coding Problem keeps you sharp for coding interviews

(CAREER) Coding interviews can be pretty intimidating, no matter your skill level, so stay sharp with daily practice leading up to your big day.

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Whether you’re in the market for a new coding job or just want to stay sharp in the one you have, it’s always important to do a skills check-up on the proficiencies you need for your job. Enter Daily Coding Problem, a mailing list service that sends you one coding problem per day (hence the name) to keep your analytical skills in top form.

One of the founders of the service, Lawrence Wu, stated that the email list service started “as a simple mailing list between me and my friends while we were prepping for coding interviews [because] just doing a couple problems every day was the best way to practice.”

Now the service offers this help for others who are practicing for interviews or for individuals needing to just stay fresh in what they do. The problems are written by individuals who are not just experts, but also who aced their interviews with giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

So how much would a service like this cost you? Free, but with further tiers of features for additional money. Like with all tech startups, the first level offers the basic features such as a single problem every day with some tricks and hints, as well as a public blog with additional support for interviewees. However, if you want the actual answer to the problem, and not just the announcement that you incorrectly answered it, you’ll need to pony up $15 per month.

The $15 level also comes with some neat features such as mock interview opportunities, no ads, and a 30 day money back guarantee. For those who may be on the job market longer, or who just want the practice for their current job, the $250 level offers unlimited mock interviews, as well as personal guidance by the founders of the company themselves.

Daily Coding Problem enters a field with some big players with a firm grasp on the market. Other services, like InterviewCake, LeetCode, and InterviewBit, offer similar opportunities to practice mock interview questions. InterviewCake offers the ability to sort questions by the company who typically asks them for that individual with their sights targeted on a specific company. InterviewBit offers referrals and mentorship opportunities, while LeetCode allows users to submit their own questions to the question pool.

If you’ve really got your eye on the prize of receiving that coveted job opportunity, Daily Coding Problem is a great way to add another tool in your tool box to ace that interview.

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Tech News

Quickly delete years of your stupid Facebook updates

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Digital clutter sucks. Save time and energy with this new Chrome extension for Facebook.

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When searching for a job, or just trying to keep your business from crashing, it’s always a good idea to scan your social media presence to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure with offensive or immature posts.

In fact, you should regularly check your digital life even if you’re not on the job hunt. You never know when friends, family, or others are going to rabbit hole into reading everything you’ve ever posted.

Facebook is an especially dangerous place for this since the social media giant has been around for over fourteen years. Many accounts are old enough to be in middle school now.

If you’ve ever taken a deep dive into your own account, you may have found some unsavory posts you couldn’t delete quickly enough.

We all have at least one cringe-worthy post or picture buried in years of digital clutter. Maybe you were smart from the get-go and used privacy settings. Or maybe you periodically delete posts when Memories resurfaces that drunk college photo you swore wasn’t on the internet anymore.

But digging through years of posts is time consuming, and for those of us with accounts older than a decade, nearly impossible.

Fortunately, a Chrome extension can take care of this monotonous task for you. Social Book Post Manager helps clean up your Facebook by bulk deleting posts at your discretion.

Instead of individually removing posts and getting sucked into the ensuing nostalgia, this extension deletes posts in batches with the click of a button.

Select a specific time range or search criteria and the tool pulls up all relevant posts. From here, you decide what to delete or make private.

Let’s say you want to destroy all evidence of your political beliefs as a youngster. Simply put in the relevant keyword, like a candidate or party’s name, and the tool pulls up all posts matching that criteria. You can pick and choose, or select all for a total purge.

You can also salt the earth and delete everything pre-whatever date you choose. I could tell Social Book to remove everything before 2014 and effectively remove any proof that I attended college.

Keep in mind, this tool only deletes posts and photos from Facebook itself. If you have any savvy enemies who saved screenshots or you cross-posted, you’re out of luck.

The extension is free to use, and new updates support unliking posts and hiding timeline items. Go to town pretending you got hired on by the Ministry of Truth to delete objectionable history for the greater good of your social media presence.

PS: If you feel like going full scorched Earth, delete everything from your Facebook past and then switch to this browser to make it harder for Facebook to track you while you’re on the web.

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