Data Broker Lists: Why Size Matters… To A Point
Jun 14, 2023
“Which sites do you cover?”, “Who has the largest site list?”, “Why did this other competitor find 60 sites when you found only 40 sites?”, “Can you remove this?” are Frequently Asked Questions we receive from members. In response, we work with members in a few ways:
We help members understand which exposures matter most
We publicly share the list of sites we cover and update it in real-time
We individually investigate missed results
We help members understand what can and cannot be removed
Which Exposures Matter Most
A large site list may include sites that don’t expose sensitive data at all. For example, https://phonesear.ch/ is technically a look-up service, but it only works if you put in a phone number. And if you put in a phone number, it just shows you generic / public information you can pull from the area code / cell provider. This site may be on a company’s site list but provides very little value to someone in terms of reducing their overall exposure and search ability.
If a service claims to be removing you from sites that don’t matter, this may give you a false sense of alarm and, once removed, a false sense of security. For Kanary, we only want to bother you when an exposure matters, and we only want to celebrate real wins.
Instead, you should focus on high-visibility sites like Whitepages and BeenVerified, sites that rank highly on Google. These are well-known sites used in doxxing attacks, made even more available when you can just type in anyone’s name and see a curated list of information on page 1 of Google. Rather than caring about every possible phone number exposed, it’s best to prioritize top search results on Google that include sensitive details about you and your family. This is our approach at Kanary.
We also rely on you to tell us which sites and exposures matter most. It’s your personal identity and your exposure online. Our algorithms are good at covering common issues, but we work together with our members to make sure our service evolves quickly based on what people need.
Which Company Covers More Sites
Comparing site lists across companies is the fastest comparison. Is 140 > 150? No! But while this approach is fast and simple, it isn’t the only criteria you should use to evaluate a service. When evaluating a site list you should check for major brokers like Whitepages and BeenVerified, and also spot check for dead sites and affiliates. A website like xlek.com may have once been an independent data broker, but now redirects to another scummy site, https://usa-official.com/.
Data broker sites also often have affiliated or shadow sites. They use the same data and when you request removal from one of these sites, they extend it to their associated sites as well. So, a list claiming to remove data from "200 sites" may mainly consist of these related sites, providing limited coverage of direct data brokers.
Many brokers pull data from state records and are state specific. Sites like ohioresidentdatabase.com, only apply to Ohio residents. So when comparing site lists, keep in mind that it’s unlikely you’ll be exposed on many of them. We’ve seen site lists claiming to cover 150 data brokers, but it turns out that 50 are specific to individual US states and/or territories.
At Kanary, we cover all sites on our list for all members, while other services gate certain sites to only the highest paying members. Our commitment is to help you maintain a clean online presence - we don’t do that by up charging you based on which sites you’re exposed on.
Investigating Missed Results
A service like Kanary has the task of scanning thousands of sites within a few hours. Sometimes a task will fail or the code will break. Bot blockers like https://www.cloudflare.com/ and captchas like https://www.hcaptcha.com/ can be challenging to circumvent and are consistently updating their methods to make it harder for individuals to automate the tedious work of removing themselves from the internet.
In cases where Kanary has missed an exposure, we encourage members to email support. From there, we can jump in to fix an issue, or come up with a new approach to working on removing you from these creepy sites. We aim to respond to members' requests within 24 hours, then add and escalate results for removal whenever possible.
Understanding What Can and Cannot Be Removed
In certain cases like arrest records or reputational damage, our analysts need to take a moment to review your individual situation and compare it with privacy law. Has the court case been expunged? Do you have a subpoena? Do you live in California or the UK where consumer privacy rights are strong?
Some reputation firms or lawyers charge hundreds of dollars an hour to do this work! But with Kanary, we see this as a key resource for both members and non-members to have access to as a part of the core service. Once our team answers these questions, we will get back to you on what we can do to help. We understand your time is valuable and appreciate people working together with us as we support you.
In cases where we cannot complete a removal, we let you know. When possible, we provide resources to other services that may be able to help. Here are a few resources for emergencies as well as escalation steps as an example.
Working with Kanary
Kanary covers 325+ harmful sites, but we also cover exposures listed on Google that are highly personalized to you. If a site pops up that we haven't covered, any member can email our support team for a review. We've covered 23,000 sites and counting that are specific to our members.
Ready to get started? Try our Free 14-day trial.