I’ve noticed a few of those lately. I find this practice shameful.
Do read the entire article. I swear it is all linked together. I’d say the second part is more important than the first, because I think more people have misconceptions about data deletion, but the first part provides some background.
Titles Of Nobility In Scotland
This one is not new, but I’ve seen a resurgence lately. Unfortunately, I cannot point you to the specific video in which I’ve seen an ad for this. It is now lost to history.
At any rate, the claim is as follows. Scotland has a law on the books that says that anyone who owns land in Scotland is entitled to be called a Lord or a Lady. There is supposedly no specification on the size of the land, so you could own one foot by one foot, and be entitled to be called a Lord.
Companies got into the action and are now selling tiny plots of land in Scotland. Their advertisement make it sound like once you buy your land, you can call yourself Lord or Lady. They have videos of people who receive their certificate of ownership and are all happy about their new title. Yay!
The whole thing is hogwash. Note that I’m not a specialist of nobility in Great Britain. Is it the case that all Lords and Ladies own land? Maybe. However, it is not the case that merely holding land will confer upon you any title of nobility. Buying land won’t grant you a right to be called a Lord or a Lady.
Sure, you can call yourself Lord or Lady, just as I can, and I don’t own land, anywhere. You’ll run into trouble if you call yourself a Lord or a Lady and use this as an advantage in a transaction because this constitutes fraud. Outside of this, you can call yourself whatever you want, even the Prime Minister of Canada, or a little teapot. As long as it is not fraudulent, it is fine.
It is also disputable, when you buy your little plot of land in Scotland, whether you are actually engaging in real estate in the same way as when you buy a huge chunk of land. The details are hairy, so I suggest you watch this video:
Services That Ensure That All Your Private Data Has Been Deleted
Let me start with this declaration:
Anyone who tells you that they can prove that the data that you wanted to keep private but was leaked has been deleted is full of shit.
That the data has been deleted cannot be proven. I know this may be difficult to grasp. After all, you can prove the contrary proposition. If someone tells you that they deleted the data, and they have not, you can prove that they have not deleted the data by finding the data in their possession. There may be hurdles to get there, but in principle, at least, this is provable. It is not possible to prove that the data has been deleted, however.
Since you cannot prove that the data was deleted, the best you can do is to ask the person in possession of the data to pretty please delete it. You can lean on the fact that you are pissed. You can also lean on the reputation of the person who has the data. In some cases, you can also perhaps lean on the illegality of the act.
I say perhaps in the last case, because it is not clear that the law is on your side in all cases. Let’s say that someone steals a medical database and leaks it to the media. Sure, you can ask the media to delete it. You can also lean on the fact that you are pissed. You can lean on their reputation. (I suppose if the New York Times assure you the data has been deleted, and you can prove later that they kept a copy, their reputation is going to suffer.) However, in this specific case, you cannot use the law to make the media delete your data. The right of free speech, as it exists now in the US, immunizes the media from a lawsuit. The people you could go after are the people who stole the data in the first place.
Now, let’s assume that a third party is able to contact the people who stole the data. Are those people who stole the data upstanding citizens with a reputation to protect? Hell, no. I bet they already have backups of your data. If someone comes over and asks them to delete it, they can show a screenshot of an empty folder, but this proves nothing. The data could be somewhere else.
Your third party can threaten them with a lawsuit, but what do you think this will accomplish? These people are already flouting the law. They probably already have sold your data to someone else. They won’t think anything of telling you that your data has been deleted, when they still have a copy somewhere.
Outfits that guarantee that they can prove your data was deleted, are snake oil salesmen, and are on part with people selling perpetual motion machines. These machines are impossible.
It aggravates me to see LegalEagle which is so good with legal issues peddle this bullshit. You can see it at the end of this video:
Someone may come and say that nobody here is claiming that they can prove anything, or that Icogni deals with “data brokers” and not the people who steal your data.
This might be true.
However, to me, this rings like the same hogwash defenses advanced by companies selling titles of nobility in Scotland. “Well, true, we imply that… but the fine print…” Moreover, those data brokers are akin to the media in the example I gave above. You can get the brokers to delete your data, but it does not follow that whoever gave it to them has to delete it too.
There’s also the issue that some things are just part of the public record. I know for a fact that the laws we have that require that the record be public make it so that some of my information is on the Internet. There’s nothing I can do about this. If you are a homeowner, some information about you will be on the Internet. (I’m not a homeowner right now, but I was one.) This is public information, and you cannot demand that it be removed.
I understand the necessity for creators to make money. I’ve written about it here:
I tolerate it when I see LegalEagle declare that some food delivery service is great. I have my doubts about whether Devin actually used this service, but I tolerate it. I’ve used similar services and found them lacking, but at the end of the day, this is a matter of opinion. Fine.
However, whether you can prove that your data was deleted is not a matter of opinion. You cannot, and this is a fact. Implying otherwise is shameful.