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[liberationtech] FT: Companies scramble for consumer data (personal data are so cheap... why bother to protect them)

Alfonso De Gregorio adg at
Sat Jun 15 08:17:18 PDT 2013

On Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 10:48 PM, Yosem Companys <companys at> wrote:
> From: Toon Vanagt <toon.vanagt at>
> I stumbled on this FT article with 'volume pricing' for personal data and a convenient estimation tool:
> Basically, if you're a millionaire, your personal data is worth about $ 0.123 (if you're not, you start at: $ 0.007).
> The FT has build an interactive data value estimation tool. For example by adding ADHD to my profile I gained a stunning $ 0.200. Consider it extra money for 'salting data set' :)
> Prices in the article & calculator seem very low and suggest that your 'personal data' are not really valuable to companies in a consumer society  That is if you're not obese, don't subscribe to a gym, don't own a plane... Due to competition the broker prices are said to trending towards 'worthless'.. Data brokers seem to suggest we should not bother to protect something of so little economic value...
> Let me know if my reading between the lines is wrong.

When the number of market players is large, "competition only exerts
weak pressure on prices" [1]. The reality is that in the today's
information economy the price paid for raw material (i.e., personal
data) is almost zero, because "it's the surveilled who are
capitalizing the system and providing much of its labor" [2]. As
remarked by Lanier, "budgets create moderation" [3] and retaining
control over our personal data would drive the prices up.


[1] Gabaix X., Laibson D., Li D., Li H., Resnick S., de Vries C. G.,
"The Impact of Competition on Prices with Numerous Firms", Technical
[2] Geer Jr. D. E., "Identity as Privacy", IEEE Security & Privacy,
Jan.-Feb. 2013, p. 96,
[3] Lanier J., "Sell your data to save the economy and your future",
BBC News,

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