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The Huffington Post, an Internet newspaper with an impressive circulation, if we can call it that, has posted a piece on Michael Fertik, the CEO of Reputation.com, an online management company that aims to help people control their online reputation. You can read the Huffington Post article following the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/06/reputationcom-ceo-personal-information_n_858485.html. After reading it and doing some research on this Reputation.com website, the question still remained unanswered: Can we still claim control over our personal information once we have agreed to share it?

If you are the type of person that likes to keep in touch with the latest tech news, then you have probably notices that there are countless applications that require our personal information. Furthermore, even when we don’t want to share certain information, it is still recorded somewhere. For example, in order to improve their services, search engines memorize our searches so that they can generate results and advertisement that are related to our field of interest. Michael Fertik’s website and company, Reputation.com, claims that fortunes have been made from the use of your personal information, such as what sites you browse, what you buy and what you do in your spare time, from search engines to social networks, as they have all been created and developed based on aggregation of data and personal information, as it was some kind of raw material. So Fertik founded the website in the belief that the users and individuals are entitled to charge these companies back, or at least take control over what they call “your online reputation”.

When you enter the site, the first thing you are invited to do is take your free reputation snapshot, which means you enter some basic data about yourself and the Reputation.com websites finds out what is out there with your name on it or associated with, whether good or bad so that you can either do some damage control or, to the opposite end, boost your exposure and visibility online, if that is something you’d like. The website advances three major products, the reputationdefender, myreputation and myprivacy. The first one can help you fix your Google results, hide unwanted links or boost your exposure, which basically is the exposure you want to be getting, not necessarily the one you have. Myreputation allows you to receive alerts whenever you appear in the online environment, it can help you look more professional and thus attract new opportunities, while the third product is designed to help you remove your personal information and data from whatever websites you wish and block marketing calls or spams.

So, whether personal information is the “new oil”, like Fertik says, or not, the question of whether users can legally demand to be paid for it when they gave it themselves beforehand remains quite tricky. The Huffington Post article on Reputation.com also commented that while theoretically the plan of keeping all your data in a virtual vault and making companies pay for it if they wanted is achievable, the technical specifics and feasibility are still quite slim. However, the Reputation.com website is a very fresh initiative towards such a world and I’m pretty sure it will reach a great audience, if it hasn’t already done so.

You don’t have to keep in touch with the latest tech news in order to realize that technology has become an integrated part of our life. However, whether or not we can control the way that our personal information is stocked by various gadgets and apps is still up for debate. Reputation.com is an online management website providing people with support and assistance in managing their online reputation, in the sense of privacy and third party access to personal data and information. The website has received several awards for both service and technology, making use of world class scientists and powerful ORM tools.

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