Who?s Database Are You In?
A database is basically a system for storing multiple items of information on a computer but how many of these have your details stored? I think you will be shocked to discover that your particulars are likely to be on hundreds of databases.
The most common use of the information stored on a database is for cold calling sales. There are many sales companies who have purchased a database of names and addresses from another company and use it to send out mail or make sales calls. The database could have come from a number of different sources. It is important to be aware that your information could be sold in this way. One way to avoid being listed on a database is to resist from filling in your details on websites. It may seem to be totally innocent to enter your email address to sign up for a newsletter that you are interested in but your email is automatically entered into a database. This database may be sold to a sales company so it is important that you check the Privacy Statement of the website before you enter in your details. Otherwise you may find yourself receiving loads of unsolicited email.
There are times when a database is actually being used to protect us. Take the finger print database for example. If you apply for a driving license in some countries your fingerprints are taken and entered into a national database. The law enforcement agencies can then access this database to compare fingerprints at a crime scene, for example, and identify the perpetrator. If you are ever arrested then your fingerprints will also be taken and added to the database.
Immigration authorities also use a database to check your passport against when you want to enter the particular country. Obviously, if you are on a database that flags you as an undesirable you will be refused entry to that country. This database has information entered by law enforcement agencies too and is becoming more complex with the fight against terrorism being paramount in government policies.
You are also having your information entered into a database at your favourite grocery store if you fill in the form for one of their loyalty cards. The database holds information on your spending habits so that the coupons that are sent to you are for products that you are likely to buy.
Of course, your credit history is also held on a database which banks and lending institutions can access to assess if you are a high risk borrower or not.
You are able to find out if you are on a database by contacting the particular owner of a database. This would be the first step in removing your information from a company?s database if you want to. There are a number of specialist firms that can remove your information from a database but they do charge for this service so it is worth seeing if a simple request to the database owner will do the trick. Check at the bottom of any emails that you receive whether there is a link to their unsubscribe requests. I find that this is extremely effective and most website owners will respect your privacy and remove your information from their database.
About the Author: Kay Kordell is a writer and an authority on database management and development. Her site is http://www.infodatabases.com .