Anyone who surfs, creates content or search the web leaves digital footprints. It is a good idea to track them, and clean them.

First of all, an important note: The internet never forgets!

Those who want to make sure they don’t appear in unwanted contexts must delete any digital footprints themselves. While many sites are honest with the information they store, most people never take the time to read the terms before agreeing to them. A good example of this can be seen in one of my previous posts.

The search engines make constant updates and indexes all the information available on the web. Once this information is available online it is there, in the form of data stored in cache memories, long after the information is deleted on the web.

The search engines also indexes all new websites, blogs and profiles that are posted on the web. Profiles that are often created in a short moment of inspiration and then forgotten about. Lots of information is also distributed in different directories and services online.

Many companies and government agencies have good rules for privacy, but the risk is still high that the data ends up in the hands of people who should not have access to them.

Facebook has half a billion members, but just a few knows the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

A lot of information was available even earlier, for example via the authorities. There was information such as name, address, salary and criminal records. Thanks to the web this data became much easier to find. Questions that previously took hours to get answered is now just a web search away.

Therefore, be thorough and accurate in the search for your digital footprints. Plan in advance and subsequently move around on a number of sites. Use all the major search engines to locate where the data is stored and remove them from the source. Organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Chilling Effects can provide advice and support.

There are tools like InPrivate in Explorer 8 or Private Browsing in Firefox that makes sure that no data is stored locally on your computer. There are also online services such as Anonymizer or Hide My Ass, which can be used for hiding your digital footprints on the web. Firefox also has an Add-On called FoxyProxy worth checking out.

Source: Computer Sweden