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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

Career consultants help job seekers beat AI robot interviews

(TECH NEWS) With the growth of artificial intelligence conducting the job screening, consultants in South Korea have come up with an innovative response.

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job screening by robot

When it comes to resume screenings, women and people of color are regularly passed over, even if they have the exact same resume as a man. In order to give everyone a fair try, we need a system that’s less biased. With the cool, calculating depictions of artificial intelligence in modern media, it’s tempting to say that AI could help us solve our resume screening woes. After all, nothing says unbiased like a machine…right?

Wrong.

I mean, if you need an example of what can go wrong with AI, look no further than Microsoft’s Tay, which went from making banal conversation to spouting racist and misogynistic nonsense in less than 24 hours. Not exactly the ideal.

Sure, Tay was learning from Twitter, which is a hotbed of cruelty and conflict, but the thing is, professional software isn’t always much better. Google’s software has been caught offering biased translations (assuming, for example, if you wrote “engineer” you were referring to a man) and Amazon has been called out for using job screening software that was biased against women.

And that’s just part of what could go wrong with AI scanning your resume. After all, even if gender and race are accounted for (which, again, all bets are off), you’d better bet there are other things – like specific phrases – that these machines are on the lookout for.

So, how do you stand out when it’s a machine, not a human, judging your work? Consultants in South Korea have a solution: teach people how to work around the bots. This includes anything from resume work to learning what facial expressions are ideal for filmed interviews.

It helps that many companies use the same software to do screening. Instead of trying to prepare to impress a wide variety of humans, if someone knew the right tricks for handling an AI system, they could potentially put in much less work. For example, maybe one human interviewer likes big smiles, while the other is put off by them. The AI system, on the other hand, won’t waver from company to company.

Granted, this solution isn’t foolproof either. Not every business uses the same program to scan applicants, for instance. Plus, this tech is still in its relative infancy – a program could easily be in flux as requirements are tweaked. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll actually have application software that can more accurately serve as a judge of applicant quality.

In the meantime, there’s always AI interview classes.

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Tech News

Google chrome: The anti-cookie monster in 2022

(TECH NEWS) If you are tired of third party cookies trying to grab every bit of data about you, google has heard and responded with their new updates.

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3rd party cookies

Google has announced the end of third-party tracking cookies on its Chrome browser within the next two years in an effort to grant users better means of security and privacy. With third-party cookies having been relied upon by advertising and social media networks, this move will undoubtedly have ramifications on the digital ad sector.

Google’s announcement was made in a blog post by Chrome engineering director, Justin Schuh. This follows Google’s Privacy Sandbox launch back in August, an initiative meant to brainstorm ideas concerning behavioral advertising online without using third-party cookies.

Chrome is currently the most popular browser, comprising of 64% of the global browser market. Additionally, Google has staked out its role as the world’s largest online ad company with countless partners and intermediaries. This change and any others made by Google will affect this army of partnerships.

This comes in the wake of rising popularity for anti-tracking features on web browsers across the board. Safari and Firefox have both launched updates (Intelligent Tracking Prevention for Safari and the Enhanced Tracking Prevention for Firefox) with Microsoft having recently released the new Edge browser which automatically utilizes tracking prevention. These changes have rocked share prices for ad tech companies since last year.

The two-year grace period before Chrome goes cookie-less has given the ad and media industries time to absorb the shock and develop plans of action. The transition has soften the blow, demonstrating Google’s willingness to keep positive working relations with ad partnerships. Although users can look forward to better privacy protection and choice over how their data is used, Google has made it clear it’s trying to keep balance in the web ecosystems which will likely mean compromises for everyone involved.

Chrome’s SameSite cookie update will launch in February, requiring publishers and ad tech vendors to label third-party cookies that can be used elsewhere on the web.

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Tech News

Computer vision helps AI create a recipe from just a photo

(TECH NEWS) It’s so hard to find the right recipe for that beautiful meal you saw on tv or online. Well computer vision helps AI recreate it from a picture!

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computer vision recreates recipe

Ever seen at a photo of a delicious looking meal on Instagram and wondered how the heck to make that? Now there’s an AI for that, kind of.

Facebook’s AI research lab has been developing a system that can analyze a photo of food and then create a recipe. So, is Facebook trying to take on all the food bloggers of the world now too?

Well, not exactly, the AI is part of an ongoing effort to teach AI how to see and then understand the visual world. Food is just a fun and challenging training exercise. They have been referring to it as “inverse cooking.”

According to Facebook, “The “inverse cooking” system uses computer vision, technology that extracts information from digital images and videos to give computers a high level of understanding of the visual world,”

The concept of computer vision isn’t new. Computer vision is the guiding force behind mobile apps that can identify something just by snapping a picture. If you’ve ever taken a photo of your credit card on an app instead of typing out all the numbers, then you’ve seen computer vision in action.

Facebook researchers insist that this is no ordinary computer vision because their system uses two networks to arrive at the solution, therefore increasing accuracy. According to Facebook research scientist Michal Drozdzal, the system works by dividing the problem into two parts. A neutral network works to identify ingredients that are visible in the image, while the second network pulls a recipe from a kind of database.

These two networks have been the key to researcher’s success with more complicated dishes where you can’t necessarily see every ingredient. Of course, the tech team hasn’t stepped foot in the kitchen yet, so the jury is still out.

This sounds neat and all, but why should you care if the computer is learning how to cook?

Research projects like this one carry AI technology a long way. As the AI gets smarter and expands its limits, researchers are able to conceptualize new ways to put the technology to use in our everyday lives. For now, AI like this is saving you the trouble of typing out your entire credit card number, but someday it could analyze images on a much grander scale.

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