In today’s age of information, data is currency. Information about our preferences, habits and everything in our life is a valuable commodity for companies trying to learn more about us in order to make us their customer. The value of our personal data seems to rise every day.
If our personal data is valuable, shouldn’t we guard our privacy more closely? If we are giving away information for free, how much are we getting in return? Data for services is the business model for both Google and Facebook. They provide you a free service and in return, they mine your data to drive advertising revenue. The question people don’t seem to be asking is this, “Is the average consumer aware of the value of their information to make an informed decision?”
Paying for Privacy
AT&T recently offered its high-speed Internet service, GigaPower, to customers at a discount if they allowed AT&T access to their Internet activity. The price tag that they put on that privacy was at least $29 a month. Few people will pay that premium as they don’t necessarily know how much data is being collected. Many may not even know about that payment option due to the convoluted sign-up process.
Is privacy worth $29 a month? Is search data worth $350 a year? Microsoft and Google have fought expensive battles over search data. Google even launched Google Plus to capture more personal data -- an expensive investment. When you look at the amount of money that companies are investing to capture personal data and the amount they charge people to maintain their privacy, do we even truly know how much our personal data is worth?
Keep in mind that the $29 was just for Internet access. Consider what happens afterwards. People access "free" email, file sharing, social networks, music streaming and other services that all collect data. Many of these services don’t even offer an option to pay for data privacy, they just promise to stop using the data to serve targeted advertising.
The Ever-Growing Terms of Service