We’ve introduced DeleteMyEmail.com as a freemium service that helps everyday people to exercise their GDPR (Article 17) “Right to Erasure” without all the faff. Because you don’t actually need to hire someone to make these types of requests, we thought we’d give you the information required to ‘Do it Yourself. That said, if you don’t have the time, knowledge or desire to follow the DIY Guide, you can ask DeleteMyEmail.com to do it for you.
Important: this article is not intended to provide legal advice. We’ve written it to help frame one aspect of data privacy regulation, in a way that helps an everyday person understand their rights. If you’re looking for specific legal advice we’d advise you to speak with a specialist data protection lawyer – or visit the ICO’s website.
What is ‘Right to Erasure’?
Each person (typically referred to as a ‘Data Subject’ in legal lingo) has the right to request an organisation (or ‘Data Controller’ in that same legal lingo) delete their personal data. There is, however, some fine print that stops it being a silver bullet ‘one hit wonder’. For example, if you have a criminal record – you can’t just ask the police to delete that. Similarly, if the company needs to hold onto that data for a legitimate purpose, you may also have a hard time getting it deleted. You can read more about those specific nuances in the legislation itself.
That said, for most cases where a person might actually want to have their data deleted, it’s entirely possible.
Why delete my data from a website?
Let’s say you were hunting for a job, we’ve all been there. You probably signed up to the first 20 websites that Google showed you in the search results – creating an account with your name, email address, location, your salary history and perhaps even your actual CV. When you signed up, perhaps there was a hidden ‘opt-in’ consent box to receive email notifications, and a whole load of fine print that made it possible for that company to process the data you shared with them in all sorts of different ways.
But now, you’ve found a job – the search is over. Now, those same job alert emails from 20 different websites that were helpful last month start clogging your inbox, so you start unsubscribing. You put your glasses on to read the tiny footer text to find an unsubscribe button, some making it easy with just one-click, others requiring you to remember your password and sign-in to their platform then dig around for the preferences section.
In many cases, companies have a vested commercial interest in keeping your data, even if they can’t send you marketing emails. The simple fact you exist as a user on their system enables them to profit from you. Using your existence to make more money from business customers by claiming you’re another job hunter on their website, creating aggregated insight reports which they sell to clients and even using your personal data including job and salary history to train new technology systems that again, make them money off your data.
Is it worth the effort? I don’t care that much
Does any of this affect you? Some might say yes, others might say no. But it fast becomes clear why, however much a company purports to want to support your rights, they often have a vested interest in obstructing them.
When setting up DeleteMyEmail.com, we had the unenviable task of contacting 100’s of companies to learn about their process for handling Right to Erasure requests. Here’s a quick insight on the time it might take!
[Unsubscribing] Avg. 5 minutes per company * 20 companies = 40 minutes (find recent email from company, locate unsubscribe option, visit website – maybe need to reset password – locate alert preferences).
Great – now you’ve unsubscribed. But wait, they still have all your data? You’ve just unsubscribed from a company that still has, and processes, all your data – a bit like an ostrich putting their head in the sand. You’ve unsubscribed because you don’t need that platform in your life anymore, so why didn’t you ask them to delete your data too?
In most cases, a person just can’t be bothered to go through the process of getting it deleted. The “hassle vs. reward” ratio just doesn’t make sense. If it took 40 minutes to unsubscribe, how long would it take to erase?
That “hassle vs. reward” ratio becomes unattractive, rather fast. Are there exceptions here? Absolutely!
In-fact, some of the companies we talk to about erasure requests are incredible and provide a whole range of easy-to-use tools and services for managing your personal data on their platform. The issue is not one platform in isolation, it’s more that even the most simple process for one website can become a time drain when multiplied across all the websites you signed up to; and don’t forget, its the rare exception for a company to make it easy!
What are the risks to deleting my data?
Firstly and most importantly, asking a company to delete your data is a destructive process. Once your data has been deleted – there often won’t be any way to get it back. So in the case of requesting your data be deleted from a platform where you have a user account that contains your profile information and other historic actions you’ve taken on that site (e.g job application history), all this gets deleted which you should consider up-front.
In a way, that’s the whole point of this process – to get everything deleted – but its still very important to understand that the potential consequences of requesting that a company delete your data.
When you make a new order with DeleteMyEmail.com and ask us to help delete your personal data from different companies, we’ll provide you with a summary of the companies we’re going to approach on your behalf, giving you an opportunity to review each and also de-select companies that you do not want us to request this from.
This gives you, the data subject, the opportunity to review the specific action(s) your requesting of us and to make sure when we request for your data to be deleted, it’s exactly what you want us to do.
Now, how can I “Delete My Email”?
As you’ve read – DeleteMyEmail.com provides a freemium service. Over time you’ll find more and more articles on our blog that explain how to delete your email and other personal data from websites, apps, platforms and databases. These guides are free and help you DIY lovers to contact companies and make the request yourself.
However, if you don’t have the time, knowledge or desire to follow the DIY Guide, you can ask DeleteMyEmail.com to do it for you. Once you’ve made a new order, we’ll send you an email requesting that you eSign our standard “Letter of Authority” – giving us the authority required to act on your behalf in making these requests to companies.
Once you’ve signed that, we’ll get to work on making these requests to companies – updating you along the way and also raising a complaint to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office when they’re not complied with.
It’s an easy, hassle-free and cathartic experience – that helps clean up your digital exhaust in just a few clicks!
Visit the DeleteMyEmail.com homepage and get started today.