Sic Permission Slip on data brokers that use your data

Permission Slip, an iPhone and Android app developed by Consumer Reports, helps users ask companies and data brokers to stop sharing their personal data and/or delete it.

ask companies delete data

The Permission Slip app (Source: Consumer Reports)

US consumer data privacy laws

The US does not have a federal consumer data privacy law, but 12 US states have enacted comprehensive privacy legislation.

These laws allow the citizens of those states to demand that companies and data brokers that collected their personal information stop using it and delete it.

Unfortunately, the number of these entities is considerable (and rising) and consumers don’t know which of their personal data they have collected. Sending individual requests takes a lot of time and effort – but not with Permission Slip.

“Permission Slip was designed to leverage California’s authorized agent provision, which is how the app is able to send data requests on your behalf. Since then, a handful of other states have passed authorized agent provisions as part of their privacy laws,” said Kaveh Waddell, a (former) Consumer Reports’ reporter.

About the app

The Permission Slip app is offered for free to consumers by Consumer Reports, a US-based nonprofit consumer organization.

To use it, consumers must open an account and enter some private information, such as their full name, email address, mobile phone number, and mailing address.

“Because Permission Slip makes data requests to other companies on your behalf, we need to retain information about your use of the App even if you close your account. Inactive information will be deleted after five years unless specific circumstances (such as an ongoing dispute with another company) require us to retain it longer,” the app’s Privacy Policy notes.

But users of the app can also request to have this personal information deleted and to opt-out of the sale, use or sharing of their personal information for advertising.

Permission Slip is most effective within the framework of US privacy laws, but can be used by anyone in the US and territories.

“The success rate on your requests is likely to be higher if you live in a state that has a privacy law, particularly if your state’s privacy law contains an authorized agent provision,” Consumer Reports says, though “many companies choose to honor agent requests whether or not the consumer lives in a state with privacy laws that allow for them.”

“If you live outside the USA, you will likely have issues trying to sign up and send requests with Permission Slip. There may be better tools available in your country of residence.”

How to make companies delete your personal data

US-based consumers can download the app from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store.

The app shows a list of companies and data brokers that has been put together with data obtained from Facebook’s privacy tools.

For each company or data broker, the app shows which type of data they collect, and users can choose to submit requests to them: “Do not sell my data” and “Delete my account”. When deleting an account, users have to be aware they might not be able to continue to use services provided by those entities (e.g., Netflix).

As new companies and data brokers are constantly added to Permission Slip’s list, users can also enable auto requests, so the app can send out requests without users having to manually make the choice each time.

“Companies legally have 45 days to respond to requests, and some take even longer. You can track progress in the ‘Requests’ tab,” Waddell explained.

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