Is selling-your-data-for-cash the new selling-your-plasma-for-cash?

A number of new startups are creating data exchanges to empower consumers to sell their data -- but they could raise the price of privacy.


May 29, 2019

Startups are now offering people “passive income” for their personal data. These companies claim to empower consumers to profit from personal data. 

But actually, they entrench an attention economy where cash-strapped consumers trade personal privacy for quick cash — much like the plasma-for-cash biz.

Data exchanges claim to give consumers control… 

Data exchanges broker the sale of personal data between the people who generate it and the large companies hungry for it.

One, Streamr, connects real-time personal data with companies via subscription. Another, UBDI (Universal Basic Data Income), buys personal data and sells “insights” to companies.

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At first glance, it’s tempting… If my toaster and my watch are already collecting data, I might as well get paid for it, right?

But data exchanges really raise the price of privacy

Most of us trade data for free services (Facebook, Google), and data exchanges aim to give people a way to sell that data instead. 

But since large companies have more data about us than we have about ourselves, it’s not really ours to sell — it’s Amazon’s.

Until consumers actually control their data, data exchanges will give companies a new way to buy data but raise privacy’s cost for consumers.

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