In April, Google announced that its search engine policy would be expanded to allow requests for removal of information such as phone numbers, email and physical addresses. Most major social media platforms now have a provision for deleting your account.
Ubiquitous as the internet is to our lives, most of us have been through moments when we wished we were just not a part of it. A new study by the cybersecurity company NordVPN reveals that more than a third of the people would delete themselves from the internet if they could. The triggers for their disillusionment vary in nature. There’s the 45 percent who said there was no reason for their name to be on the internet, while 42 percent said they felt used because companies collect their data and exploit it to their advantage. Another 34 percent felt that someone would eventually hack their devices, and 31 percent didn’t trust the internet.
The survey’s target group was residents of France, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Japan, and South Korea. While it did not cover India, chances are that Indians, among the most active on the net from countries across the world, will have similar fears, with the likelihood of opting to abandon it altogether under aggravating circumstances.
Top of the list of the kind of information that people surveyed would want to scrub off the net is personal financial data which is something all of us are guilty of sharing at some point without clearly understanding the dangers of doing so. The bank account number mailed to a child or the credit card details shared with a vendor, are a perfect example of that.
But there are other erasures that are equally a priority for people. From that unflattering picture or video that was uploaded in the early days of our social media presence to an older dating profile, there are many things that come back to haunt people. Unfortunately, you can’t remove the pictures because that would draw further attention to what is already embarrassing enough and keeping it in place risks discovery by one more person. It is the kind of Catch 22 situation for which people are willing to pay companies lakhs of rupees for subtle removal.