/ Technology

Are you listed on 192.com?

Have you ever googled yourself? Maybe that’s narcissistic, but I prefer the term curious. Your Twitter profile may come up, but your search might also uncover 192.com – a website listing much of your personal data.

Mine did. In fact, take out the social media profiles, and it was the first Google result. And once I clicked on 192.com, it came up with six results for little old me – including addresses, other occupants of the property I lived in, and the year I was on the Electoral Roll – all in a handy spreadsheet.

Granted, not all the results for my name were actually me, but the search tool is flexible, and can be refined, such as by other household occupants or age range.

In fact, 192.com boasts that it gives you a complete profile of any person found on its site. A typical free profile includes ‘full name, current address, age guide, phone number (where available), property prices and even an aerial photo of their house’.

Interested in the other residents of their property, or neighbours? Or how much they paid for their house? Pay for premium content, from as little as 25p per search, and you can find all of this out – and more.

Where did 192.com get your data?

The information comes from various public data sources, including the Electoral Roll, Directory Enquiries and Directors Database. If you wish to opt-out of 192.com publishing your name and address, you can print out an online PDF and send it to the company.

However, this opt-out service gives you only two options – either sending a letter or a fax. Personally, I haven’t faxed something since my work experience days eight years ago – so it doesn’t appear the most user-friendly way. Why can’t you send them an email?

Taking data from the Electoral Roll and using it this way is the business model many marketing companies and online directories (like 192.com) use. And they’re allowed to use it legally. But should the personal data they hold be available quite so freely for anybody to see and buy?

Did you give 192.com your consent?

Take a look at 192.com’s privacy policy and the company will assure you that it’s ‘committed to protecting the privacy of our users’. One way 192.com says it does this is by only using data for ‘which we have your consent’.

But how exactly does it have your consent? I, for one, do not remember giving mine – and I didn’t know it held so many details about me until I started browsing the site in more depth.

Our legal expert Georgina Nelson had this to say about 192.com:

‘The traditional idea of the Yellow Pages – which a few years ago might have provided a person’s name, address and number – seems to have ratcheted up a key or two, and the business model of online directories like 192.com is in providing “value and depth” in data over and above these expectations.

‘Yet, how far will these companies go in their hunt for our personal details? What will they get their hands on in the future? And is there anything to really stop them publishing them online for the world to see?’

Have you heard of 192.com before, and now you know it exists, do you think it’s right that this website is allowed to display your personal data in such detail?

Comments
holly says:
10 January 2012

(quote 192.com team)”192.com cannot publish this data without consent. This data, typically from the edited register, is consented for use by commercial companies when you register to vote, and you can opt-out of sharing this data on the voter registration form.”

Hello, sorry but this statement does not explain why so many people who have consistently opted out every year find themselves on your site . I would be interested as to what “consent” you refer to in general please?
If the old records which you hold did perhaps circumvent the new regulation/s(?), why do you not simply stop to publish old records which you accquired prior to the change in law? That would surely stop a great deal of confusion as to why people who consistently opted out every year find themselves on your site.

Bob H says:
11 January 2012

I just came accross 192.com and I and the family opt out on the electoral register. The data they have is from 2005. is this really legal can Which start up a campaign?

John says:
31 January 2012

My objection to the publication by 192.com is (1) that they didn’t directly obtain my consent (marketing emailing policies in most countries is now to insist marketeers do obtain consent before emailing people on their lists); (2) that information that I deliberately don’t choose to publicise is so easily seen. In my case as a self-employed consultant, my age is easily visible which renders me liable to age discrimination for which there is no legal remedy. As a company director I can’t keep that private, but people have to take a lot of trouble to find it. With 192.com it’s very visible. I think that 192.com and others like them are taking advantage of a legal grey area around privacy and could end up with more draconian laws that affect the whole openness of the web as people seek to have this or that interest protected. As with journalism, it’s about self-regulation in an open society, how far you go before you upset people and getting that boundary right. (3) the abuse by marketing companies in general of personal information: unfortunately it is still hard work to get people to stop contacting you, and often it is by organisations outside UK jurisdiction. 192.com and others are facilitating this abuse.

Jane says:
8 April 2012

We have requested that our details be removed in the past but they reappear a few years later. I would like to be able to opt out forever. Removing details once they have been published is not satisfactory. I would also like to know who has paid for my details and why.

Will says:
21 April 2012

192 is not a reunite site, it never has been so why are they justifying their existence on several blogs with such nonsense. If I wanted to be contacted by people from my past then I would join friends reunite. And as it happens I would rather avoid most of my relatives.

The Council told me that you cannot get all the info they have off the electoral register, so they need to stop quoting this.

For example where are they getting age guide? If you don’t have social media sites, don’t own anything, are not a director, have no loans, no credit cards, no store cards etc etc and have never given that info to anyone except the government for your job, where are they getting it?

How dare they talk about data protection, it clearly does not exist in their world.

And ‘hello’ – what has happened to morals and standards in this Country? It seems we are being sold without our consent just like a car or a book!!

Willem de Beer says:
16 May 2012

No, I think it’s outrageous that somebody’s personal details should be publically available!

Mrs Hacked Off says:
7 June 2012

I have been asking 192.com for over a week not to remove my details and they are still there for all to see.

Getting my details removed seems to be impossible.

192.com team says:
18 June 2012

Please send us a removal form which you can access here: http://statics.192.com/rel-3.28/downloads/C01.pdf

I would like to see 192.com closed down or restricted to those who have opted in to using the service. Having to opt out.

Is there any way that I can inspect what information 192.com holds about me without cost and providing more information?

That’s a very good idea, wavechange. The report should also disclose the sources or origins of such data. I think every municipal Electoral Registrtaion Ofice should be required to maintain and publish a list of all the organisations to whom they sold the edited electoral register each year and which organisations have a continuing subscription to such data. Entries on the electoral register can be added or deleted at any time during each period of currency so that the register is as up-to-date as possible in the event of a snap election; are such additions/deletions notified automatically to the on-line directories, so that when you move home you immediately start getting unsolicited contacts?
Nearly all my junk mail reputedly comes from charities, but when trying to penetrate this on occasions I have found that the charities employ commecial organisations to do their mailshots and that the charities don’t actually hold the data themselves unless and until a target becomes a respondent in some way. Getting yourself removed from the lists is often very difficult since the charity abdicates any responsibility for the mailing list content. Hence I keep getting plaintive mailings urging me to save this donkey dropping through my letterbox.

I no longer get much junk mail. I used to send it back to companies in their post paid envelopes with an unaddressed note explaining my thoughts on unsolicited mail. I have not done this with charities, though I certainly don’t approve of their unsolicited mail.

Online information worries me most. I am happy to be in the phone book but that’s about all. I have had many thousands of junk emails because my employer put my email address on their website and presumably it was harvested and sold with thousands of other email addresses.

But back to the point, 192.com and all other organisations putting information online should be required to get the permission of the people involved. No exceptions.

Too right, wavechange. Their explicit permission, not implied consent or consent by default [as has been allowed to occur with cookies used by websites].

holly says:
25 June 2012

I believe that an individuals personal details given for the purpose of registering to vote should not be sold and traded as a commodity at all, in particular considering that there is no option to refuse to complete the E.R forms.without risking prosecution.

The support and belief of the electorate, that we are indeed completing the electoral registration forms to be part of a fair and democratic process , should be of greater concern to our government than our potential commercial value to private companies.

G Phillips says:
24 August 2012

I did not know this site existed until last week and I am appalled by how much of my personal information is available to everyone. I did not give my permission to have my details published and I would like to have them removed from the site but this is proving difficult.

holly says:
27 August 2012

My sympathies, especially if you have chosen to opt out every year :/

There is info on 192.com site regarding removal of your personal details.
(unfortunately it involves downloading a form from 192.com’s website,, printing it, filling in your details, then bearing the cost of the postage.( or you could send it by fax )

info is here: http://www.192.com/help/tools-guides/about-your-details/

I would suggest that as 192.com has so many details of people in their database which they still publish online sourced from pre-opt out days, that they could solve this situation by contacting everyone they hold in their database who has not given clear consent, enclosing their removal form with a pre-paid envelope, a full explanation : and clearly requesting consent or refusal to continue to publish an individuals personal details.
Perhaps 192.com could supply funds to local councils to offer this option on their behalf to the entire electorate , so that those who wish to have their details removed could do so without incurring any cost or inconvenience to themselves.
The latter option would also inform the many,many people who currently have no idea that their pre-opt-out personal information is still currently published and traded .

alma says:
24 August 2012

Hi there, have just recieved my Electoral Register form and this particular paper has just sunk in that the constant bills and demands for money, and some very personal remarks and physical attacks on members of my family, loss of my job and general ostracising in my community, and hatred has come from my personal info being in the public domain. I have spent 3 years tormented by invisible “demons” and couldn’t understand why. I am not really computer literate, and preferred writing by post, but got rid of my PC, and started to use a laptop. Unfortunately I ignorantly went on websites to track down family, I lost contact with my father and possibly my inheritance in hindsight in doing this on the major sites. I’m devastated that ALL my bank details and other such personal data has been corrupted. How can I remove the data permanantly given my “cyber” illiteracy? I have googled my name but can’t find myself as I have a unique way of spelling my name thankfully and this may stand me in some good I hope of salvaging the smallest of dignity. As for the Electoral Register, I have always refused to send it in as I have only ever voted once and felt it was pointless, and have ALWAYS paid cash, preferring this to mounting debts from loans or credit cards….

Hello Alma, I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. We have an advice guide on how to protect your ID online: http://www.which.co.uk/technology/computing/guides/protect-your-online-id/

You can remove your details from 192.com by completing this form: http://statics.192.com/rel-3.34/downloads/C01.pdf

Good luck.

holly says:
27 August 2012

Instead of finding personal details advertised and traded on 192.com’s website ,( and not everyone is aware or indeed has internet access to check) in particular those details which have been sourced from pre-opt out times, having to endure the inconvenience of visiting the site,downloading/printing/filling in/”request a removal” form, posting and bearing the cost of postage (or fax) to have unconsented for details removed:

192.com could fully fund the local councils to inform and provide every person on the electoral role with a ready printed form, requesting their clear and specific consent for their personal details to be used,advertised,sold or stored by 192.com.with a full explanation regarding “consented for information” in relation to the historic information that 192.com may still use.
Of course, this explanation could also provide the useful information re the telephone preference service, the mailing preference service, and anywhere else that 192.com sources an individuals information from.

Finally,provision of a pre-paid envelope paid for and addressed directly to 192.com.themselves.

This would inform any person who opted out every year and who believed that their details were not sold for any purpose , that this regulation was legally circumvented , and that their historic information may have indeed been published.

Ros330 says:
12 September 2012

Like so many of the comments on this thread, I am horrified to find that 192 have details of myself, and my address for others to buy. I want to know exactly what details they have on me – as I think some are wrong, and connect my address with someone with a very similar name, which is being used by that person deliberately, and fraudulently. Surely under the Data Protection Act I can find out what info 192 have on me, and my address without having to buy ‘credits’? Can someone at Which tell us what we need to do to get them to give us this information?

Dr Narc says:
28 September 2012

According to the pdf form you print and send off for the chance to opt out, it says on it in someway the details they accuired from the electorial register with be deleted but not the details they had from anywhere else, so the pdf won’t really help, because they will have the same data from other sources, which is just aswell anyway because I have noticed that when sites are exploiting 192.com for their greed for information and personal data and these sites tend to a have a hyperlink to their opting out PDF, but then 192.com find out sites have this an immediately change the page on which it is linked to, so it’s then harder for people to actually find it.

David says:
11 December 2012

I spotted my whole families details on 192.com after someone told me they were there. I sent an email to 192.com requesting removal of all of their data held or published about me and attached a signature. I received an email stating that I had to return a form requesting this which I did by fax and post, I have now explicitly permanently opted out of the local authority providing my electoral and personal details, have always been x-directory and am listed with the TPS. None of this seems to have made any difference as 1 month on they are still listing me and my family who have all withdrawn any implied permission to publish details. I have just sent another email reminding them that I do not give any permission to publish my details but hold out little hope – is data protection that flimsy in this country? I used directory enquiries as a young adult to find someone’s phone number if they weren’t x-directory but this seems completely wrong to me that you are automatically opted in from various sources.

My details are on there from an ER – electoral roll – before you were given the choice to opt out. Of course, like most people, i did not even know the darn thing got sold to make the councils a few more quid.

Question: don’t we need the right to REMOVE our ‘assumed consent’ from old databases? That’s all it was, no-one told us and heck, who would have thought they would sell it, to ask them? Irresponsible is the word.

Ian, Yorkshire.

Dave Rave says:
20 January 2013

192.com are not the only ones in this business sadly!

http://www.peopletracer.co.uk – removal form here: peopletracer.co.uk/pdf/pt_dr10_form.pdf

These guys even have the first part of your post code visable on their site! Try it for yourself (replace firstname and surname with your name):

http://peopletracer.co.uk/partner/index/source/yasni/name/firstname+surname

The worst part is that this appears on Google’s search engine. So the first part of your postcode is visable to anyone. (Is this even legal???)

http://www.tracesmart.co.uk – you have to e-mail them to send you the form! Details here:

http://tracesmart.co.uk/privacy-policy/

If anybody knows of any other People Tracing service please reply to this thread. As I’d like to remove myself from their databse.

The sad thing is that they are probably millions of people who don’t realise their details are available on the web!

Amy says:
8 March 2013

Sadly, I am experiencing the same problem. Can anyone please confirm whether sharing, displaying and/or disclosing private data online – without signed consent – is legal in the UK? Couldn’t find this information clearly stated anywhere. Thanks.

I have twice emailed 192.com to remove information as they have been displaying my own and my neighbours childrens information as well as the adults in the properties on their site without permission from me or the neighbours. 192.com need to realise that permission is not given by default or ingnorance of what they are doing……..they also need to read the data protection act about holding aged or out of date data on someone as this is a prosecutable offence under the act if I understand it correctly and compensation may be payable to anyone who’s old data is held – again assuming I am reading the DPA corectly……. They have been very quick at responding and removing data when the act is mentioned!!

Amy says:
11 March 2013

Thanks MM. I also emailed 192.com again with the Data Protection info. Also found http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/handling.aspx – as it might be useful.