In an age where your personal data is being shared with far more companies than you can imagine, the folks at Tech Policy Institute decided to take a poll. The general public was asked how much money they believe they should be paid by data amalgamators in exchange for their browsing habits, location history, etc. The answers from U.S. respondents ranged from caring almost not at all to just see ads, to demanding $10 for data collectors to see total bank account balances.
Across all of the activities covered, Americans would only demand about $3.50/month on average to have each individual piece of personal data shared. A figure far too low when digital advertising revenue eclipsed $100 billion in 2019.
As it stands now, the public is being paid $0 for all of the personal information which they choose to share, and for the information which they may not even know is being collected. That information is being used to build data profiles on an individual level which are then repackaged as “targeted advertisements” through ad networks. It’s why you can be searching for something on Google on your desktop and 6 hours later you see multiple ads on Facebook for the same thing for which you were searching on a different machine earlier.
VPNs can help cut down on much of the data we unwittingly share, though you’re still going to end up sharing some information if you log into the same accounts across multiple networks or devices.
Big Data has, unfortunately, creeped into our lives and is further entrenching itself as time goes on. What’s scary is that Americans, for the most part, do not seem to be concerned about it. Until legislation is passed limiting what can and cannot be collected, there isn’t a lot that can be done about data amalgamation on the macro level. On an individual level, taking care to opt-out of sharing whenever possible, using a VPN and limiting the number of apps on your phone can protect you to some degree.