It's true that most of these companies have an "Opt Out" option but, unfortunately, you have to "register" and agree to their terms; thereby confirming (and updating) your personal information before you can Opt Out. Some even require a scan of your driver's license before you can request removal.
Siciliano says, "If you want to spend the time requesting information removal, you should keep in mind that it's only a matter of time before your information is out there, everywhere, all over again."
Think about it. Every time you access the Internet, your activities are being tracked. One free product that you can download to see who's tracking you and then block them from mining data off your computer is Abine's DoNotTrackPlus. This won't remove any of your personal information, but it will help prevent continued surveillance and distribution.
However, if removal is your goal, Abine has another product/service called DeleteMe, which monitors and continually removes your personal data, but only from specific data aggregation sites, not from the Internet in general or from sites where the information originated, like phone books and databases of public records.
Hide your IP address
There are also a number of IP scrambler programs, such as Virtual World Computing's Cocoon, which reveals you as a generic "Cocoon user" to anyone who's looking. "Cocoon acts as a smart proxy," says Brian Fox, co-founder and CTO. "When a user is logged into Cocoon, only Cocoon's IP address can be seen, not the users', and cookies can be easily blocked entirely, or just stored in your Cocoon account. Without Cocoon, cookies are stored in your browser and freely given and shared with websites and ad networks without your knowledge."
According to Fox, Cocoon protects your privacy both externally and internally. For example, it protects you from identity theft on public WiFi, by providing you a secure, encrypted way to connect to the Web over unencrypted WiFi. Without this, your connection can be intercepted along with the data you enter into websites, including passwords and credit card numbers, which can be exposed.
Read the 'terms of service'
Siciliano says, "Most of the data that identity brokers publish are extracted from public records or by for-profit companies that obtained it from the person themselves. This person most likely agreed to the Terms of Service that allowed their data to be sold to a third party. The same goes for photos. If you actually took the time to read the Terms of Service before clicking 'I Agree,' you probably wouldn't agree with them."
For example, Terms of Service (or Agreement) where users blindly click "yes" can result in massive privacy invasion, which can involve everyone on your computer's or cell phone's contact list. For example, Facebook's smartphone apps provide a "sync" feature where you can synchronize your contact list from your phone to Facebook.
If you choose "Sync Contacts," you just exposed all your friends and family to Facebook's analytics and Facebook is one of the primary sources of information for companies that collect and then broker your information. There have also been complaints from people who claim that they never selected "Sync Contacts," but Facebook did it anyway.
Hide in plain sight
Altimeter's Webber adds, "Other services attempt to hide your identity by propagating a number of false, but similar, online identities with similar digital characteristics; thereby, hiding the individual in the noise. This is effective from a blunt-force level, but will likely be overcome by analytics."