The Internet is a communications tool that does not discern between the types of information that users transmit over it or post to servers accessible through the Internet. To a computer, a Social Security number may be made up of different characters than a novel, but the nature and sensitivity of the data is not known to the machine unless it is specifically programmed to recognize such data. Even in cases where counter-measures to the posting of confidential information may be deployed, a malicious individual can simply move to another server or utilize creative formatting to workaround protections. As such, in most cases, the only thing that stops individuals from posting the personal, protected information of others is the deterrence provided by legal penalties and individual’s own sense of morality.
If your personal protected information has been posted online, you are undoubtedly looking to remove or suppress it. The Internet defamation removal lawyers of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA can work to achieve these goals. To schedule a free and confidential consultation call our firm at (216) 373-7706 or contact us online.
What Is Included in Protected Information?
Protected information, in general, means that the information in question is linked to an individual’s identity. Protected information is sometimes referred to as personally identifiable information (PII). The information can be used to individually identify the person and it should a malicious individual obtain protected information, it can be used to facilitate identity theft and other crimes. Protecting information can include:
- Social Security numbers
- Driver license information
- Health care or medical records
- Bank or financial accounts information
- Credit card numbers
- Debit card numbers
While there are many other types of protected information, this list provides a brief orientation to the types of information we are concerned about.
Methods to Remove Protected Information from the Internet
For individuals who have been “doxed” or otherwise have had their information posted online, the removal of protected information as expediently as possible is the most important goal for an individual. One way this goal can be accomplished is by reaching out to the website where the information was posted. Most reputable websites like Facebook, Google, Reddit, and others have strict policies against the release of protected information or PII. For instance, Reddit’s content policy lists an array of “unwelcome content” on the user-generated content platform. Unwelcome content includes personal and confidential information, involuntary pornography, and other sensitive types of content. The site states that it reserves the right to remove content that violates these and other rules. Furthermore, the site states that it will ban entire communities if the posting of “unwelcome content” is pervasive.
While many sites are responsive to the significant consequences that can result due to the posting of personal and confidential information, some sites are less than reputable. Some sites, particularly some web forums those hosted overseas, may encourage or permit the sale, trade, or bundling of immense amounts of PII. In situations like these, it is highly unlikely that a removal request will be acted upon and it may even confirm to the scammers that your information is accurate.
In situations like these, we can work with search engines like Google to reduce the visibility of the information while, if appropriate, pursuing additional legal options to change, restore, or protect certain types of protected information. Since search engines are the main way people find content and information on the Internet, by asking Google to remove an offending page from its index the likelihood that anyone will find it is significantly reduced. If it is possible to identify the person who posted your identity through the legal process, we can also work to hold the individual accountable for the damages you have incurred.
Additionally, in some cases where the original site complies, the search result may still around for days, weeks, or months. Furthermore, a Google cache (a copy) of the site may still exist on Google’s servers. In situations like these, asking Google to remove the search result and cache can be essential to a comprehensive solution.
Attorneys Pursue Solutions for Doxing & Online Posting of Protected Personal Information
Individuals who have had personal information posted to the Internet often feel a sense of violation of their privacy and extreme anxiety regarding the potential financial and social consequences. The attorneys of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis, LPA can work to remove this information, suppress search results, and take other actions to hold the responsible party accountable for the damages caused .To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation call (216) 373-7706 or contact us online.