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Surfshark releases Incogni, a tool that helps users delete their data from brokers

The new privacy product will request data broker companies to delete your data, helping users op-out of their data being given to third parties without wasting years on email debates

Cybersecurity company Surfshark announces the official release of Incogni, a tool that helps prevent your personal information from being stored and sold by data brokers. Upon the customers' request, the tool will identify and communicate with dozens of data broker companies, so that the person's details can be deleted from their databases. The users will be able to follow the progress on how many companies were contacted, which companies have deleted their data and which companies are in progress of doing so.

Leading names in the data brokerage industry currently own data on hundreds of millions of consumers, some boasting up to 1500 data points per consumer. Based on publicly available information and our correspondence with data brokers, the information they collect on a specific person can include not only contact credentials such as phone number and home address, but also ethnicity, religion, marital status, hobbies, media usage, purchase and search history, or even political affiliation. 

Alarmingly enough, this market is expanding and is estimated to reach US$345 billion in 2026. With the introduction of GDPR and CCPA, all these companies are subject to giving or deleting information they hold on the person if they receive a formal request. However, contacting each firm could take ages due to the excessive response frameworks companies have crafted and perfected. 

Surfshark's team of researchers contacted 36 data broker companies on their own to show how difficult this process can be. To get a final response took little over 6 days from our first letter with each new data broker and more than 20 days with each established one. As 36 contacted data brokers make up only 1% of the existing market (4000 companies), it would take 66 years to finalize one person's data inquiry requests by hand. 

Furthermore, 63% of the large data brokers asked for additional personal data which is not necessary to complete the inquiry (outside of ID copy), asking for a bank statement or even e-signature and thus prolonging the procedure.

"Data privacy is becoming an increasingly alarming issue, yet many people are still unaware of the hidden market that data brokers operate in," - points out Vytautas Kaziukonis, Chief Executive Officer of Surfshark. "As the sensitivity and scope of data they possess widens, so does the need to be able to opt-out of it. However, based on recent studies, the actual process of taking back data is an extremely tedious procedure, which requires legal knowledge and lots of persistence. Incogni aims to help users opt-out of these practices more efficiently and exercise their legal right to privacy easily."

More information about data brokers and data sensitivity can be found in Surfshark's study here: https://surfshark.com/incogni

The Incogni privacy tool is available for purchase in the official link: https://incogni.com. For now, due to being dependent on local data handling legislation, Incogni is available only in Europe and the U.S.

Published Tuesday, January 04, 2022 8:31 AM by David Marshall
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