Hunting down your data with Whitney Merrill: Lock and Code S03E11

Depending on where you live, you can ask a company to hand over all the data it has collected about you and, in a matter of weeks as mandated by law, that company has to fork that information over.

Whether the company will abide on time, however, is a different story.

In the European Union, the United Kingdom, and California, consumers have a leg up in understanding what data is collected about them, largely thanks to several laws passed in those regions in the last few years. And at least in California, people can request that a company hand over the data it has collected about them, even if they are not an active user of that company’s product or a customer of that company’s services.

That’s because in today’s world, your data is not collected only by the companies you directly interact with, but also by the companies that your friends and families interact with.

In February of last year, Whitney Merrill proved this was true when she requested her data from the then-popular app Clubhouse. Though Merrill did not have an account with the company and was not a user of the app, she proved that Clubhouse did have her phone number, which had been shared with Clubhouse by Merrill’s contacts who were active users.

Merrill, who has requested her data from several more companies since then, learned more about data privacy compliance than about just what is being collected about her.

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