Erasing Personal History

29 Oct

Cover from "A Separate Reality"

Erasing Personal History

Way back when, we used to read those Carlos Casteneda books, the ones that talked about Don Juan, a Yaqui Way of Knowledge and all that stuff. Even if Casteneda made it up in whole or in part, the stories still worked on the level of literature. One of the things that Don Juan talked about with Carlos was erasing personal history.

Those books were written before the Internet made it easy for just about anybody to get hold of just about anybody’s information. Now, just because guarding one’s personal information seems like a losing battle doesn’t mean we have to capitulate. Here is a way that seemed to work when we tried it against a site that had personal information about us but claimed to have an “opt out” policy. The site’s opt-out policy was something like “Send us a fax requesting removal of your information and we’ll remove it in X days.” We dutifully sent the fax and waited the X days. They didn’t remove our info. We sent another one, and again they didn’t remove the info. That’s when we got determined. The next day, we sent two faxes. The day after that, we sent four. The day after that eight, then sixteen, and so forth. We got up to one hundred twenty-eight faxes, after which they finally removed our information from their site.

We’re not sure if all those faxes are what caused the site to remove our info, but if we were betting folks, that’s how we’d bet.

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