Permission Slip, a new iPhone and Android app, makes it incredibly simple to request that firms remove your personal information and secrets.
Trying it saved me around 76 hours of effort notifying Ticketmaster, United, AT&T, CVS, and 35 other firms to stop.
Are you tired of businesses stealing and selling your address, birth date, location, internet activity, dog food brand, and even adult-film preferences? Oh, boy, do I have some excellent news for you.
Did I mention Permission Slip is completely free?
Did I mention Permission Slip is completely free? And it’s produced by a reputable organization: the non-profit Consumer Reports.
I experienced a few difficulties while testing it, but I’m recommending it to everyone I know. This is the privacy app that none of the eavesdropping firms want you to know about.
This is how it works: Following California’s lead in 2020, a dozen states approved legislation granting Americans certain digital privacy protections.
They provide us the ability to urge firms to stop selling and erase our data, but the fact is that they are extremely difficult to use. You must go through hoops, visiting each firm that may hold your data and filling out paperwork.
Until now, that is. Permission Slip works as a legally “authorized agent” behind the scenes, similar to your own private butler.
After you provide your name, email address(es), and phone number, the app will perform the majority of the work for you, sending emails and filling out paperwork on your behalf.
Even if your state does not have a privacy statute, most national corporations will honor these types of data privacy demands from all Americans.
Most users see a drop in creepy targeted advertising after using Permission Slip, according to Ginny Fahs, who has been working on the app for the past three years at Consumer Reports’ Innovation Lab.
So, where do you begin? Permission Slip displays a sequence of cards that you may swipe through, each of which represents a corporation that gathers and perhaps sells your data.
Tap on a corporate card to see a summary of the information the firm has and your choices for taking action, depending on whether you have an account.
You generally have two options at the bottom: “Do Not Sell My Data” or “Delete My Account.” Permission Slip begins the procedure when you tap one.
Then you may repeat the process for a different firm. Each only takes a few seconds.
How set up the Permission Slip App
This is applicable to far more than simply technology enterprises. Permission Slip currently includes Starbucks, Netflix, Disney, Lowes, Panda Express, the fertility app Glow, and the pornographic website Pornhub, to name a few, with plans to expand.
The procedure can then be repeated with a different business. Each takes only a few seconds.
This is applicable to far more than just technology companies. To name a few, Permission Slip presently works with Starbucks, Netflix, Disney, Lowes, Panda Express, the fertility software Glow, and the pornographic website Pornhub, with hopes to grow.
What about all those data businesses whose names most people don’t know, the ones that earn money by gathering and selling your personal information?
A second feature of the program allows you to automatically request that data brokers erase their creepy dossier of personal information on you.
(I’m hoping Permission Slip includes some of the nasty voter data brokers before we all get bombarded with political spam and SMS for the 2024 election season.)
How Permission Slip App works
“The more data there is out there, the greater the attack surface for security breaches and data leaks.” So having strong data hygiene is really beneficial for avoiding future harm,” Fahs explains.
There are a growing number of privacy applications on the market, but Permission Slip stands out in part because it is free, does not try to upsell you on a product like a VPN, and does not require access to additional data, such as your email inbox, to function.
Consumer Reports claims it will not exploit your data — not even to sell magazine subscriptions — and limits the information it acquires about you while acting as your agent. The app has already processed 200,000 queries during its open testing phase.
Permission Slip was simple to use, with the app handling the majority of the details. But before you dig in, there are a few things you should know.
The software is quite fast to use, however it may take some time for your orders to be completed. Companies usually give you at least 15 business days to opt out of selling your data and 45 business days to erase it.
Permission Slip keeps track of all your pending and completed requests on a dashboard. Companies may seek more information in order to process requests, and Permission Slip has human agents sort through them to reduce the bother for you. (It partially compensates for those humans and other expenditures.)
Companies frequently insist on reaching out to you personally, so keep a watch on your inbox. Disney, for example, sent me an email asking me to confirm my request, which was simple.
The most time-consuming response I received was from OpenTable, which emailed to tell that if I didn’t want them to sell my data, I needed to log onto their website, click to privacy settings, and figure out which of its half-dozen choices I wanted to turn off.
According to Permission Slip, less than 10% of the businesses in its platform do anything like this.
When I contacted OpenTable for response, they said the extra steps assist “ensure it is not a fraudulent request” and “allow diners to customize their privacy preferences (especially for those who have created a diner profile with OpenTable).”
You will still have to make some critical decisions. Before you swipe through the app and instruct every organization to erase your data, keep in mind that there may be legitimate reasons why a company needs your data.
For example, if you remove your Netflix account, you will no longer be able to utilize Netflix.
There may even be firms you choose to sell or share your data with. Permission Slip, for example, warns that opting out at Petco may affect your discounts and incentives if you utilize the retailer’s Pal incentives program.
“What we’re hoping to do is provide a little bit of education on the sorts of data that different companies collect and then help consumers reason with how they want to manage their data,” Fahs explains.
Unfortunately, Google, Meta, and Amazon make it especially difficult to utilize the “do not sell” and “delete” choices to preserve your privacy.
To begin, they claim that they do not “sell” your data, but rather preserve it in order to profit from your digital existence.
And canceling your account is unlikely if you want to continue utilizing Google services like Gmail. In some of these circumstances, Permission Slip provides step-by-step directions for downloading your data or just viewing it.
You may also assist prevent firms from spying on you in the first place by using a Web browser that prevents invasive tracking, such as Mozilla’s Firefox.