What Is Incogni? Surfshark’s New Tool: 2023 Review & Explanation
A lot of your online data ends up in the hands of data brokers and advertisers who make you jump through many hoops to remove your data from their databases. Read on to learn how to automate data removal with Surfshark's Incogni.
Today you’ve likely visited numerous websites, accepted cookies, signed up for a newsletter or used apps on your mobile device. If so, chances are good that your personal information from those online interactions could be up for sale on data brokers’ databases. Luckily, you can get personal data off the market with Incogni, a new tool from Surfshark (read our Surfshark VPN review).
- Surfshark launched its new data-protection tool, Incogni, in January 2022.
- Incogni speeds up and automates the process of sending data removal requests — and ensures brokers adhere to data rights protocol. It handles each data removal request according to CCPA and GDPR data-protection regulations.
- Incogni requires you to sign a limited power of attorney to permit it to manage data removal requests in your name.
The handy tool from Surfshark follows regulations — such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — to compel data brokers to expunge your details from their online databases.
In this article, we’ll tell you what Incogni is, how it works, and we’ll show you how to use the tool to manage data removal requests.
Updated the article to reflect Incogni’s new pricing.
Incogni is a data privacy software that automates the handling of data removal requests. It’s a new tool from Surfshark, which is known more for its excellent VPN.
Yes, Incogni is safe. It’s built by a reputable cybersecurity company with zero data breaches and a demonstrated history of valuing user privacy.
No, Incogni isn’t free. It costs $12.99 on a monthly plan or $6.49 per month on an annual plan.
What Is Incogni and What Does It Do?
Surfshark’s Incogni is a data protection tool that automates the process of requesting data brokers to remove your data from their directories. Ordinarily, you’d have to scour the web to find data brokers with your personal information, one at a time, and ask them to remove it.
Incogni helps you sidestep the tedious, lengthy and largely ineffective manual process of finding the data brokers and sending data removal requests. It utilizes an algorithm that predicts which data brokers are likely to have your data, and its team of legal minds speeds up the entire process and makes it more effective.
How Incogni Handles Data Removal Requests
As of 2019, there are more than 4,000 data brokers out there that collect users’ data and sell it to turn a profit. With such an enormous number, it’s nearly impossible to know which data brokers hold what information about you.
Even if you find culpable data brokers, it would take time to wade through the legalese to find the ideal laws to base your removal requests on. According to Surfshark’s research, you’d need 66 years to finalize the data removal process manually.
However, even if you succeed in sending out hundreds of requests, you’ll still be locked into a lengthy back-and-forth with them. Enter Incogni.
When you sign up for Incogni, it sends out official data removal requests in bulk on your behalf. You won’t lift a finger — the removal process happens on autopilot, letting you track the progress on the Incogni dashboard.
From the dashboard you can tell:
- How many companies Incogni contacted
- Which data brokers acted upon the removal request
- Which removal requests are still pending
There are a few things you should know. First, Incogni doesn’t confirm whether the data broker has your personal data before sending a request. Instead, it uses an algorithm that predicts which data brokers are most likely to have your personal information.
As a result, it’s possible that it might send out data removal requests to companies that don’t have your data.
Second, the tool doesn’t always know whether the data brokers actually removed your data or not. Keep in mind that Incogni only sends official removal requests and doesn’t get into the broker’s internal system to check whether they removed the data.
However, if the broker makes their databases publicly available, Incogni can perform random checks to verify data removal. Thankfully, according to Incogni, all the data brokers on their list have been collaborative and honest about the removal of data.
Data Broker Companies That Surfshark Incogni Works With
Right now, Incogni sends removal requests to 76 data brokers. However, plans are in place to add new data broker companies to the list. An Incogni representative told us that whenever they add a new data broker, they automatically send removal requests to them — you don’t have to start the process again.
The company claims to have prioritized high-scale data brokers such as financial brokers, marketing brokers and health information brokers.
Some of the notable data brokers include:
- Rich Media
The exact number of data brokers Incogni can request removal from depends on your preferences, location and local data-handling legislation.
What Do Data Brokers Know About You?
Data brokers are in this game for the money. They build a complete profile about you and sell it to third parties, such as digital marketers. To do so, they gather as much information as they can find from the apps you use, public records and platforms you log in to (including social media).
The companies collect data such as your:
- Full name
- Home and email addresses
- Phone numbers
- Age and gender
- Marital status
- Religion and hobbies
- Education and occupation
- Political affiliation
- Search and purchase history
How Much Does Incogni Cost?
Incogni has two pricing plans. The monthly plan goes for $12.99, whereas the annual plan slashes 50% off that price, bringing it down to $6.49 per month.
Data brokers have 45 days to respond to data removal requests, as per the CCPA data rights protocol. Some brokers could take their sweet time, and if you’re on a monthly plan, some requests could still be pending by the time the subscription runs out.
The good news for monthly subscribers is that those requests will still be completed, even if your plan ends. Incogni finishes the initial round of data removal requests even if you fail to renew your subscription. However, you’ll have to renew the subscription to send out new removal requests.
Where Is Incogni Available?
Incogni has only just left the inception stage, and as you’d expect of such a new product it’s not available everywhere. As it stands, the tool is available to internet users in the U.S. and some European Union countries.
How to Get Started With Incogni
The following guide shows you how to send data removal requests using Incogni.
- Create an Account
Go to Incogni’s official website and click the “sign up” or “get started” button. Enter your email, create a password and click “continue” to initialize the setup. Incogni will ask you to verify your email — be sure to do so.
Incogni recommends using an email that you usually use to sign up for online services to increase the success rate and effectiveness of data removal.
- Complete the Signup
Click “start the process” to begin the registration process. This will take you to a page where you’ll have to provide additional personal data, sign a power of attorney document and verify your email. Fill out the contact form and click “next.”
- Sign Power of Attorney Document
Sign the limited power of attorney document and click “next.”
- Make Your Subscription
Once everything is done, you’ll be directed to the Incogni subscription page. Pick your ideal subscription and complete the billing process. Click “start data removal” to begin the ride. You’ll receive an email confirming the start of personal data removal.
Why Does Incogni Ask for Power of Attorney?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and CCPA have provisions for requesting the deletion of personal information. Under these regulations, the owner of data has the “right to be forgotten” and therefore can make an official request to ask the data brokers to permanently delete or anonymize aggregated data.
The key thing here is that the person submitting the data removal request must be the owner of the data or a person legally appointed by the data owner. If Incogni was to send data removal requests on your behalf without official consent, there would be no way for data brokers to validate these requests.
Actually, doing so would give data brokers a legal latitude to brush such requests aside as fake. To seal that loophole, Incogni asks you to sign the limited power of attorney to grant it the power to make the data removal requests in your name.
What you ought to know is that the scope of the power of attorney is very narrow. By signing the document, you authorize Incogni to contact data brokers and request them to delete personal data.
It also gives Incogni permission to escalate requests to local data protection agencies should the data broker refuse to comply. Once every request is confirmed and processed, the power of attorney becomes invalid.
You may not know it, but volumes of personal information are floating around out there. Data brokers know who you are, where you live, your marital status, your shopping habits and more.
They’re using this information to build an intrusive profile about you and selling it to the highest bidder. You can stop them from turning a profit from these data points when you subscribe to Incogni.
However, Incogni isn’t the complete remedy to the deteriorating user data protection; it’s only part of the solution, but a very important one. It’s quite adept at handling data removal requests and offers an excellent way to exercise your data rights under the GDPR and CCPA.
What do you think of Incogni? Have you tried the service? Was it successful in the requests to remove your data? Do you know any other privacy tools that you’d suggest? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading.