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Authorized agent apps will help you delete your online data

Online shopping
Posted at 1:18 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 13:21:16-04

It's hard to know how many companies and data brokers have personal information about you because it's always changing.

You’ll likely see a lot of information if you search your name online, but it's getting easier to get your online data deleted.

A few new apps have launched recently in response to a more 2-year-old California law around data privacy.

That law requires most data brokers and big companies to delete your personal info or stop selling it if you tell them to do so.

Consumer Reports has found big companies are going along with this no matter where you live.

Apps that do this work for you are known as an “authorized agent.”

“For the user, it's pretty straightforward. You just have to give the agent permission to work on your behalf, so, in some cases, that's signing an official form might even you know a witness in the room and in other cases it's just a part of the terms of services of a product that you sign up for,” said Kaveh Waddell at Consumer Reports.

“So when you sign up, it says, by signing up this product, this company has permission to make these requests on your behalf, and then off they go,” said Waddell.

Because the authorized agent process is still so new, there are some bumps to work out.

Consumer Reports recently put in requests on behalf of more than 100 volunteers, asking companies to send their data to them.

Less than a quarter of the time, the company sent that data to the volunteers or said it didn't have any of their data.

Most of the time the company didn't respond at all.

“In general, it seems like companies aren't really ready to deal with these requests and, in some cases, the requests coming from Consumer Reports on behalf of our volunteers were the very first authorized agent request some of these companies had ever gotten,” said Waddell.

Waddell says he expects as companies get more of these requests., the process will become easier.

Researchers at Consumer Reports want regulators to make a few changes, like giving you more time to respond to companies when they ask you to verify your info and making it easier for authorized agents to prove they have permission to act on your behalf.