Despite Growing Concerns About Data Privacy, Only 6% of American Adults Have Used Data Removal Services

14 million U.S. adults currently use data removal tools or services, but the market could grow nearly 90% in the next 12 months.

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By Brett Cruz Headshot Brett Cruz, Digital Security Expert

When you make an online purchase or sign up for a new social media profile, you share traces of your personal information. This data is sometimes sold to “data brokers,” making you more vulnerable to everything from spam phone calls to identity theft. Digital data removal services are emerging as a simple solution to this growing issue: they help protect your personal information by finding it and removing it from as many places as possible.

We asked Americans about their familiarity with data removal products and their interest in adopting these tools to protect themselves in the next year.  Here is what our study of over 1,000 people revealed:

  • Despite widespread concern about data privacy, only 6% of adults in the U.S. have used data removal services to clear their personally identifying information from the internet.
  • The most popular services in the U.S. market today are DeleteMe, Mozilla Monitor Plus, and Reputation Defender by Norton.
  • Fewer than half of Americans were aware that data removal services were available to use.
  • Data brokers sometimes sell user data to the U.S. government, which uses it for law enforcement or homeland security purposes. About 40% of Americans were unaware of this controversial practice.
  • 12% of those who don’t currently use data removal services are highly likely to adopt one of these services in the next year. This means the market could grow by 26 million people over the next 12 months alone.

Table of Contents

Awareness and Adoption of Data Removal Services in 2024

Personal data removal services reduce the amount of personally identifying information online. These tools search out your information on the internet and get it removed by submitting removal requests or by telling you how to do it yourself. They also clean up your online data regularly. Some deal directly with shady “data brokers” — companies that collect and sell personal data without consumers’ consent — and pay their fees to get your data pulled from the brokers’ lists.

Current Usage and Awareness of Data Removal

Our study shows fewer than half of American adults are even aware of data removal services. Meanwhile, only six percent of respondents said they currently use them — about 14 million people in the U.S.

The most popular services among users in our study were 

  1. DeleteMe
  2. Mozilla Monitor Plus
  3. Reputation Defender by Norton.

DeleteMe, which was the most popular service in our study, entered the market back in 2010. Mozilla Monitor Plus, introduced in February 2024, is quickly gaining ground in the market despite its recent release.

Other popular data removal products are Incogni, PrivacyBee, and Kanary. Those who paid for data removal services spent an average of $15 a month or $100 for a yearly subscription to cover their online footprints. However, about half of users said they relied on free data removal services, which could be clunky or even risky to use.

Why Early Adopters Have Embraced Data Removal Services

Though usage is currently low among the general public, the reasons why early adopters have turned to data removal services indicate that many more people may adopt them in the coming months and years. Foremost among these reasons was the desire to safeguard personal information from the perils of identity theft and data breaches. Additionally, individuals sought to selectively erase personal data from the digital sphere or regulate their online footprints. Others pursued these services to evade targeted marketing efforts.

Here are the top five factors currently driving the adoption of data removal services among American adults:

  1. Enhance personal privacy: In 2019, a Pew Research Center survey found that eight in 10 Americans felt they had lost control of their online data. Consumers use data removal services mainly to boost their online security and protect their privacy. They want to make sure their information isn’t easily found or misused online, showing how much they value controlling their personal data in the digital world.
  2. Protect against identity theft and security breaches: Many respondents expressed concern about identity theft and the compromise of personal data in security breaches, such as the recent Roku breach. They turn to data removal services to reduce the risks of unauthorized access to their sensitive information, which could result in financial loss or damage to their reputation.
  3. Remove specific data points: Many respondents focused on removing particular types of information they prefer to keep private, including their home addresses, phone numbers, or marital status.
  4. Manage digital footprint: Participants in our study expressed a desire to minimize their online presence or “digital footprint” by removing as much personal information from the internet as possible. This includes information that is discoverable through internet searches and on websites where personal data may have been used without their permission.
  5. Reduce exposure to marketers and robo-callers: Many respondents want to avoid unwanted communications such as emails or phone calls from advertisers. These users turned to data removal services to remove their phone numbers or emails from databases utilized by marketing firms.

Data Privacy Is A Pressing Concern For Americans

So few Americans have used data removal services, but the market could expand since more and more people recognize the need to protect their privacy. Industrial data harvesting is a significant problem that U.S. lawmakers are addressing. In April 2024,  the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair introduced a bill — the American Privacy Rights Act — that may serve to rein in data brokers.

Nearly 85 percent of American adults today are at least moderately concerned about who has access to their data online. That figure was higher among adults aged 55 and older and lowest among adults aged 18-24. That may be because they are more comfortable using the internet. After all, they grew up with it. Older adults who are less comfortable with their information online may be the ones who lead the way in adopting data removal services.

How Concerned Are You About Who Has Access to Personal Information

Despite a high reported degree of concern about data privacy, computer and phone users are constantly giving away information when they use apps, visit websites, “like” posts on social media, etc. Sometimes, you can opt out of sharing personal data, but it may involve reading and understanding dense privacy policies. Besides, only three percent of Americans always read these policies, and 34 percent say they have never read one.

Before taking this survey, did you know what a data broker was? Percentage of respondents
Yes 37%
No 53%
Unsure 10%

When we use apps to talk to friends, collaborate with co-workers and bosses, or order meals, the data we share ends up in the hands of the platforms we use and the companies we deal with online. Many of them record all users’ online interactions with them and sell their users’ info to data brokers for a fee.

Only 37 percent of adults responding to our study said they knew what a data broker was. This rate was significantly higher among men and older adults (55+). This is important because it means younger generations and women may be more vulnerable to cyber exploits that involve harvesting their personal data from online sources after they use the Internet.

What is a data broker? Information brokers that collect and sell personally identifying information have been around since the 1950s, but in the era of the worldwide connected computer network, industrial big data brokers scrape, collect, and sell your personally identifying information from online sources like oil prospectors tapping the ground in the rich petroleum fields of Texas.

Data brokers sometimes sell user data to the U.S. government, which uses it for homeland security, immigration, and law enforcement, among other purposes. Some critics feel that the government purchasing citizens’ information violates their civil liberties.

Data Brokers Also Sell Data to US Government

About half of the people in our study knew that companies sell personal data to the U.S. government, and 71 percent of respondents felt very or moderately concerned about this reality.

In addition, 85 percent also felt there should be more government regulation regarding sharing/selling personal data.

Besides the potential for government misuse of personal data, 48 percent of respondents harbored high levels of concern that personal data could be used to train artificial intelligence (AI) models. This is a real possibility since AI startups have already trained large language model (LLM) AIs using data from the New York Times and discussion forum websites like Reddit. Nearly four out of five Americans were at least moderately concerned about this possibility.

Given Americans’ Worries About Data Privacy, Removal Service Market Could Boom

Today, 94 percent of American adults do not use a data removal tool or service to protect their privacy and identity online. This means the remaining total addressable market for data removal providers is massive.

Most people don’t use data removal services due to the costs or doubts about their effectiveness. To overcome this obstacle, providers may need to lower prices and educate the public about the value of protecting their personal data online.

Why don’t you use data removal services? Please select all that apply. Percent of non-users
They’re too expensive 31%
I don’t trust that they work 27%
I have no reason to use one 20%
I haven’t found a data removal tool or service that meets my needs 15%
I prefer to handle my data removal manually 16%
I’m not sure 30%
Other 2%

Interestingly, our survey found that 12 percent of non-users of data removal products (around 26 million people) will likely adopt one of these services in the next year. This means the market could grow by 88 percent over the next 12 months alone.

How likely are you to start using a data removal tool or service within the next 12 months? Percent of non-users
Extremely or very likely 12%
Moderately or slightly likely 65%
Not at all likely 22%


Most American computer and smartphone users are just beginning to wake up to the risks of revealing so much of their personal data online. Our research found that only 42 percent of American adults know data removal services are available, and only six percent currently use one to protect their digital identity.

However, the data from our study paint a picture of a product segment ready to blossom. More than four in five American adults today are at least moderately concerned about who has access to their personal data from online sessions. These consumers may be ready to invest in tools and services that help them secure their identifying information.

Our data

In 2024, data analysts conducted a web-based poll of 1,002 U.S. adults. Their genders, races, and ages were representative of the American population based on recent Census data.