This may be true, but combined with some of the aforementioned program options (or other similar products/services), some people have found that creating a labyrinth of identities to mask your real identity is quite effective.
This maze gives these intruders a web of complications that's so confusing; the privacy pirates are unable to distinguish fantasy from reality. For example: You need to create several alias identities, but not randomly. Use your full name, then create four or five aliases at different locations. Be sure to include one of those locations in your own city and state. Then try this:
1. First on the list: create several Facebook accounts with your name and the five addresses you've chosen for your five alias identities. Choose a college or high school to find friends, then send out Friend Requests to a few dozen of the people Facebook recommends. Most people accept anyone who sends a Friend Request, so don't worry, you'll have plenty of friends to round out your social status. Fill in everything, share everything with everyone, and make the information about your job and education similar to the truth, but everything else is a fabrication, including the photo. You will soon see these aliases popping up all over the Internet.
2. Revisit every site you can remember where you filled out a form requesting your personal data. After you login, edit the form and fill it with the data from one of your aliases. Be sure to keep track of your five aliases including login, passwords, etc. For other info, just screen capture the Facebook pages. Contrary to popular belief, editing records will overwrite the older files and, eventually, the older records will disappear.
3. The most difficult identity to create involves credit cards, which we all use to make online purchases. Get together with some of your friends and exchange addresses. Get one credit card for online purchases and use a friend's address, and he will use yours, as a way of further confusing the information aggregators.
4. Sign up for a bunch of online services using your aliases such as MySpace, Flickr, a few game sites, some shopping sites, travel sites, and e-cards. Those e-cards are notorious for spreading your data around.
5. Give each of your aliases e-mail addresses at all the free sites such as Yahoo, Google, Hotmail, MSN, Bing, and anyone else who offers free e-mails. As a tip, change one small thing in each entry so you can track exactly who is brokering your data; for example, if you use an apartment address, change the apt letter from A to B to C; or use Apt B for Bing, Apt G for Google, Apt H for Hotmail, etc.
6. And last, do not contribute your information to any "Who Is" service or, instead, use an alias, and remember to remove your name from all your websites. Use generic names such as webmaster, president, CEO, sales, customer support, etc. or just invent some creative employees such as Captain Hook or TinyTim@mywebsite.com. If you feel these names are unprofessional, then create professional ones like Robert T Burke or Samuel J Potter.
Do not delete
Asking these sites to remove your information is a lot of work and probably a waste of time because you are asking them to give up revenue. But be smart. Purchase the necessary software, create aliases, and stop spreading your own information.
And remember the most important thing: never delete anything, always edit and resave the edited data over the old data. All of your information is digital and controlled by programming code that's always looking for "new" files. These systems are programmed to save all the deleted files, but edited files; that is, files with the same filename are backed up onto servers on top of (that is, they overwrite) the old files with the same filename. Old versions of the edited files are kept for a few months (more or less, based on the individual pirate company's policies) but, eventually, the older edited files will disappear.
Sartain is the author of "Data Networks 101" and a freelance journalist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.