Data Privacy Double Agents – Can We Trust OneRep, HelloPrivacy, DataSeal and BrandYourself?
Processing over 1 million opt out requests for customers, we see a lot of disturbing things with respect to consumer data. One of the most disturbing though is the incestuous relationship many personal data removal “privacy” companies have with data brokers posting and selling people’s information online. Most of the collaboration is hidden from the public and happens behind closed doors, but here we have posted some screenshots and live video examples to warn consumers and bring attention to the practice.
Beware of “Double Agents” in the Data Privacy industry
OneRep, HelloPrivacy, DataSeal, and BrandYourself prey or have preyed on the naïveté of consumers by partnering with data brokers through co-marketing, co-selling, and affiliate relationships – and in some cases, even also simultaneously run or ran data broker web sites. If you’re seeking privacy services, we recommend avoiding data privacy Double Agents, unless you want to fund the very data brokers you’re trying to be removed from.
In this post, we explore the partnerships between certain data removal companies and data brokers, the history of these relationships, and ask the question of whether we can trust OneRep, HelloPrivacy, DataSeal and BrandYourself. As an advocate for consumer data privacy rights, Optery does not partner with data brokers or people search sites. Most companies in the data privacy space have no ties or financial arrangements with the data broker industry – it’s just these companies we recommend avoiding.
Read on for live videos and screenshot evidence to back up these claims.
Notorious Data Brokers ThatsThem and PeopleFinders Both Redirect to HelloPrivacy and BrandYourself for Affiliate Partnerships
BrandYourself operates or has operated three data privacy product brands: BrandYourself, HelloPrivacy, and Zoro Privacy. Check out the videos below demonstrating the notorious data broker ThatsThem redirecting to their partner HelloPrivacy.
But there’s more, BrandYourself, the parent company of HelloPrivacy, has also partnered with PeopleFinders directly, who will sell your data to just about anyone in the world, unless you have it removed by their partner BrandYourself, of which PeopleFinders will get a cut of your payment through their affiliate partnership.
OneRep offers Data Removal Services… with a Catch
OneRep was founded in Belarus in 2015 by an opaque ownership group that has been linked operationally to the people search site data broker Nuwber. From 2015 to 2018 OneRep with no discernible legal presence in the United States was selling privacy services to customers in the United States. In 2018, OneRep utilized International Legal Counsels PC to create an LLC in Virginia, which they now claim as their headquarters. A lot of OneRep’s business comes from their extensive affiliate partnerships with, get this, other data brokers. For example, if you opt out of the data broker ClustrMaps, ClustrMaps will push you to a OneRep affiliate partner link encouraging you to sign up for a OneRep privacy plan so they can both generate a sale from a user in the midst of submitting opt outs. i.e. if you click through the link and sign up with OneRep, you’re indirectly paying the data broker ClustrMaps money to opt out! Here’s a screenshot of the data broker ClustrMaps directing you to their affiliate partner and “privacy” company OneRep after your opt out is complete.
PrivacyDuck Raised Concerns About OneRep Connecting them Operationally to the Data Broker Nuwber Starting in 2016
The late Will McAdam of PrivacyDuck shared his detailed research into the murky origins of OneRep and its seemingly symbiotic operations with the data broker Nuwber starting back in 2016. Sadly, Will passed away, but his significant contributions to the privacy community live on on his YouTube channel where he documented several disturbing business practices that OneRep has since ended or concealed from the public.
For example, as can be seen and described in the video evidence documented in the PrivacyDuck YouTube videos below, when OneRep originally launched, it displayed consumers’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in plain text to the public in a strikingly similar fashion as the data broker Nuwber. Because OneRep was posting people’s personal information to the web without permission at that time, and as can be seen in the video evidence, OneRep also offered an opt out procedure with steps and workflow similar to those of the data broker Nuwber. In his YouTube videos Will also documents and points out that OneRep and Nuwber web sites were seemingly mirror images of themselves run from the same origin code base. Sadly, but predictably, OneRep’s entire web site history has been completely erased from the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. However, included below are five videos posted by PrivacyDuck about OneRep documenting these practices.
The PrivacyDuck website is no longer operational since Will McAdam’s passing, and another privacy service named Privacy Pros scooped up the expired domain name to harvest the residual SEO traffic after Will’s death for a different privacy service, but the Internet Archive maintains a copy of Will’s original OneRep review. In the review, PrivacyDuck states:
OneRep is the newest of the data opt out / privacy companies, having come online in late 2015. It is also one of the most disturbing when it comes to the handling of your personal information and data. This reason is two-fold:
- The company seems entirely operated and managed out of Belarus, a country in Eastern Europe. There is no verifiable operation and handling of your data, or business address, in The United States.
- OneRep has already been caught red-handed displaying your Personally Identifiable Information (P.I.I.) on the Internet, and continues to do so via their sister site Nuwber.com
Does Your Data Removal Privacy Service Use the OneRep API Behind the Scenes?
OneRep offers an API and actually powers opt outs for several other other data removal privacy companies. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of OneRep processing your personal information, and are unsure if your data removal privacy company might be using the OneRep API to perform your opt outs behind the scenes as a OneRep strategic partner, we encourage you to send a quick note to your data removal service asking them something like “Does your company exclusively fulfill all of its own data broker opt outs and removals, or do you utilize any third parties to fulfill some of, or all of, your data broker opt outs or removals? If you do utilize a third party, can you please reply with the name of the company(s) you use so I can evaluate if I am comfortable with your use of that service”
DataSeal is Run by the Same Team as the Data Broker ThatsThem
Whereas OneRep has gone through great lengths to conceal its relationship with the data broker Nuwber, the data privacy service DataSeal is completely open to sharing that they are run by the same team as the data broker ThatsThem. The parent company’s name is “Durt Holdings” and their tag line is “Diggin’ up Dirt on the Web”, which they post to their web site ThatsThem.com … apparently, unless you pay them to have it removed. We can only imagine they saw how successful the OneRep + Nuwber symbiosis has worked, and are now trying to replicate that success with a ThatsThem + DataSeal “protection” racket.
Here you can see the ThatsThem + DataSeal partnership in action. If you find your profile exposed on ThatsThem, you can pay their sister company DataSeal to have the profile removed. However, in this case, it’s not an affiliate fee changing hands between two different parties because the two companies are one and the same run by Durt Holdings.
If you are concerned with the incestuous relationship between some data removal privacy companies and data brokers, please carefully consider whether or not you should do business with OneRep, HelloPrivacy, DataSeal, or BrandYourself. Instead, please warn others and share this post online. And if you know of any other incestuous relationships between data privacy companies and data brokers, please send us a note through the Optery Help Desk – we’d love to highlight them in this post!