Atlanta-based privacy management platform Privacy Bee has released a new service, which can remove users' data en masse from thousands of databases across the Internet.
The service scrubs consumers' personal information from companies' databases so it can not be sold or hacked. By limiting the number of places where your personal data is stored, individuals reduce their exposure to data breaches.
A massive 4.1 billion personal records were exposed in the first six months of 2019 -- long before the new vulnerabilities of the COVID-19 forced us all to work from home. But, unfortunately, even with breaches like these, it looks like the US may not be getting a nationwide privacy bill anytime soon.
"The United States is one of the few developed countries in the world without a Data Protection Agency. The practical consequence is that US consumers experience the highest levels of a data breach, financial fraud, and identity theft in the world," said Caitriona Fitzgerald, policy director and chief technology officer, and Mary Stone Ross, associate director, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
But companies' data privacy practices are often lacking and antiquated. The average time for companies to identify a breach in 2019 was 206 days, according to an IBM study.
One effective way to protect ourselves online is to reduce the number of companies that store and sell our data. But who has the time, or the patience, to make hundreds of data deletion requests? Now, there may be an answer.
Privacy Bee is currently a website to keep it simple and accessible to a wide audience. The managed privacy solution automatically submits removal requests on your behalf, saving you the time and hassle of following up with the company to ensure compliance.
The deletion and opt-out requests are all automated, so there is no need to engage often if users do not want to.
The team has built a database of companies that comply with rapidly evolving privacy legislation, and has created a semi-automated system to work on deleting users' data, company-by-company.
The company is self-funded with no outside capital. The service costs $9 a month or $86 per year, which covers all opt-outs and deletion requests, all follow-ups, and continued coverage of new companies added to the database.
Privacy Bee does require a certain level of personal information to be shared. It says that it only asks for the information that companies require to make these requests, nothing more.
It has a limited power of attorney to act on users' behalf and confirms that it never sells or shares user data.
The current privacy laws in the US do pose a big issue for consumers. Currently, the onus is in the individual's hands to force companies to comply, and delete their personal information to prevent it from being resold, or worse, stolen.
The manual process is demanding and is a huge feat for one individual to fight the tech giants alone.
To stay secure, consumers must be proactive and use available tools to reduce data theft and forcing companies to delete information.
Privacy Bee does seem like a small price to pay to prevent a massive headache in the future when the next data breach inevitably occurs.