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Putting a price on our data

A new report by Boston Consulting Group on behalf of Liberty Global has attempted to answer the question we often ask – how much is our personal data worth?

We’ve previously warned that with free services, consumers are no longer the customer – they are the product, to be monitored, profiled and sold on. With 96% of Google’s $37.9bn revenue in 2011 coming from advertising and Facebook’s advertising revenue in Q3 2012 reaching $1.086bn, the value of our data has been the oil to the digital revolution.

According to the report, the value extracted from European consumers’ personal data were worth €315bn in 2011 and has the potential to grow to nearly €1tn annually in 2020. That’s nearly 8% of European GDP.

Hardly surprising that the lobbying efforts against greater privacy protection are well funded. One of the main findings was that if users understood what data was being captured and why, and if they could see direct personal benefit, they were willing to hand over their data. The problem is at present consumers simply don’t have that knowledge or the legal protection to ensure they have a choice.

The danger is that without strong consumer protection and competitive markets, privacy is at risk from dominant or monopolistic companies reliant on ever increasing volumes of data about us – and with little to deter them from over-stepping the mark.

We should also not underestimate the power of these commercial interests in lobbying to regulate or outlaw privacy-enhancing technology, particularly where those commercial interests coincide with Government moves towards increased surveillance online. Russia’s plans to outlaw anonymous web-browsing will not only undermine the rights of users and allow the Government to control what citizens see online, but it will also help corporate interests reliant on data maintain their market position.

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in CCDP, Communications Data Bill, Data Protection, Europe, Information Commissioner, Internet freedom, Online privacy, Privacy, Web blocking

7 Responses to Putting a price on our data

  1. Guest

    This is why internet trackers, NOT cookies, should have been regulated in EU law.

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  3. Despairing

    Why are we being used as commodities without our consent? It is ludicrous that companies including credit reference agencies can sell our data (personal data that we do not seem to have control over) and make huge profits from this. We should have control over our data and not others. It is not right that companies can sell data without explicit consent from the person whose data it is.

    I do not want my data used for any purpose that I do not consent to. I do not want my data sold from one company to another unless I explicitly consent (which I don’t). It is not just the Google’s of this world that we need to be wary of. The NHS is building more and more databases with the intention to share more and more data. They claim that such data is anonymous but they are sharing your date of birth, postcode, address, medical information, doctor’s codes and so on and so forth – these data are certainly not anonymous and it is outrageous that they are still getting away with pretending that they are. At least we do not need to use Facebook but most of us need to use the NHS at some point.

    • Guest

      At least we do not need to use Farcebook but most of us need to use the NHS at some point. We don’t even need to use the NHS, unless you’re part of the lower classes. It should be possible to OPT OUT of the NHS completely, e.g no national insurance contributions if you’re paying private medical insurance.

      • Despairing

        Even if one opts out of the NHS one still has to pay National Insurance which means that one is paying for the NHS as well as private care. It is quite difficult to completely opt out of the NHS – one might need a GP and private GPs are not available everywhere.

        • Guest

          Re-read my post, it clearly says this It should be possible to OPT OUT of the NHS completely, e.g no national insurance contributions if you’re paying private medical insurance.

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