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Everyday, in order to subscribe to certain services on the Internet we are almost forced to disclose private data even though those services don't necessarily require it. For example, I need to expose my credit card number in order to register for iTunes even if I just want to browse through free apps, etc. This seems risky to me and I feel I should only have to provide my banking information on demand.

In most cases, we may face targeted marketing through the private data we disclosed over the Internet.

Are there any guide books or guide lines to know how to prevent exposing our private data to service providers over the Internet when it is not necessary?

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For most of them, just enter fake data. –  CodesInChaos Feb 26 '12 at 17:18
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

There are steps people can take to minimize the amount of personal data given to websites.

For example instead of giving your credit card data every time you buy something many sites permit you to use PayPal.

If you are required (or want to in order to gain access) to give a credit card number, you can simply use a Controlled payment number. That way the site never gets your real credit card number.

Here is how to create one.

The real point is that most people do not take the time and effort to fully protect themselves. They much prefer "fast and easy" to prudent and cautious. Protecting yourself takes time and effort as well as research and learning.

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You can often use gift cards to open and fund online accounts. An iTunes gift card can be used to create an iTunes account, and you can make up your personal account information. Ditto for Amazon: use an Amazon gift card to open an Amazon account.

Some Visa gift cards can be used in most places online, some can't - read the fine print carefully before purchasing these. Also, beware the fees, restrictions, and expirations of gift cards. Privacy unfortunately can be expensive, but if it's a priority for you, it's worth it.

Also be aware that "delete" (e.g., your personal information) on many sites really only hides it from you, it does not actually remove it from your dossier with that company. Caveat emptor. Best not to provide actual personal details in the first place unless it's essential for the transaction.

It's rare that you have to provide "real" identifying information about yourself to most online sites. Just keep track of what you did provide so that you can prove later if necessary that it was you who opened the account.

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On amazon you can delete your banking information, I do that every time. I am sure other services have such a feature. Or then you call to the EFF.

They keep personal data as a convenience, you can delete it. Except if it's in the ToS, then it's your responsibility to accept using the service and you have to respect them. If again, you think the ToS are not fair and privacy invading, call to the EFF.

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If you want to use their service, and the requirements/terms state that you provide that information then your option is to either a) accept it or b) not use their service. There's no guide books or guidelines, it's just common sense.

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or c) lie to them d) sue them so they change their terms –  CodesInChaos Feb 26 '12 at 19:49
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