How Much Is Your Personal Data Worth?

 

JEFF DESJARDINS 

In a world where big data reigns supreme, sources of highly detailed and granular information can be very valuable to companies.

But what if that information is about you?

THE PRICE OF PERSONAL DATA

The following infographic from MBA@UNC looks at the business of data brokers, how they get their data, and what they sell it for.

It also puts a price tag on what users are willing to “pay” to not have their data collected.

How Much Is Your Personal Data Worth?

It’s often said that if you are not paying for something, it should be known that you are the product.

In other words, companies may offer a free service to you in exchange for your personal information. Then, that data is used to sell targeted ads, or is re-sold for profit.

BUYING AND SELLING PERSONAL DATA

Here are some examples of how companies may do this:

  • Google and Facebook dominate the digital advertising market by using your data to allow marketers better targeting options. Did you know you can download a copy of your Facebook data, including every ad you ever clicked on?
  • Loyalty cards also work because of personal data – they are free to the user, but help businesses collect data on you and your spending habits.
  • Data from your mobile phones (such as geo-location) can be resold by your telecommunications company to other groups.

Once you hand your data over, it can be mined or re-sold, ending up in large databases of personal data.

Companies such as Axciom then curate data from multiple sources to come up with “more than 1,000 customer traits and basic information including location, age and household details”, as well as “more than 3,500 specific behavioral insights, such as propensity to make a purchase”.

Data brokers make money by selling this data compiled in comprehensive lists or databases to marketers, non-profits, and fundraisers. The data isn’t on you personally, but aggregated into some type of a typical buying profile such as “Affluent males interested in technology products”.

It then comes full circle, as your data is used by businesses or non-profits to target people just like you for future purchases.

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