We interact with our devices more than we do with our partners, they are our companions. We are manipulated and exploited by algorithms that run these devices, the algorithms are top employees to Big Tech companies! The companies are more interested in our data, this data is either sold off in aggregate to other companies or used to design predictive models and problem-solving models.
As the saying goes; “Data is the new oil” or is it?
Should we treat data as a commodity, is it even our data to begin with or is it just information generated within the information era?
Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang thinks we should be compensated for our data. He has founded The Data Dividend Project, this project seeks to get normal citizens (You and I), for our data utilized by social media platforms.
As much as compensation for individual data sounds ideal, it is not feasible.
Why Is Data Compensation Not Feasible?
Proponents of the data compensation model argue, that the value you receive from joining these platforms is tiny compared to the money the Tech giants generate with your data.
Let's crunch the numbers;
According to Statista.com, in 2020 social media giant Facebook generated roughly $86 billion in revenue.
Now Mr Zuckenburg and his generous investors and board members, decide to pay us(users of Facebook) equally. Facebook currently has 2.6 billion active users, this would equal a payout of $33 per annum.
This is contradictory to a Harvard study with a sample size of 2000 people which found, on average people would charge $80 a month to companies that wanted their data. The average person in this study is not looking for $30 a year.
The same study also scaled-down American citizens, indicating that each company would have to pay $240 billion per annum in privacy costs. Lastly, the study found out that individuals are willing to pay a mere $5 a month for a service that would protect their privacy.
Another ridiculous model being proposed is; instead of everyone getting an equal share of the profits that come from our data, each person needs to price their own data.
This is hilarious as we are not good at pricing, I do not know how much I would sell my data for!
Besides the pricing dynamic people tend to give away data for free, this is known as the privacy paradox.
Rather than seeking to create solopreneur's that will profit from selling their data, it is better to strengthen privacy regulation laws. We can have data neutrality laws of some sort, that would prevent companies from limiting access to features or information based on the amount of data you provide.
Similar legislation exists that regulates Internet Service Providers (ISPS) from restricting your internet based on the websites you visit. This legislature is known as Net Neutrality.
Have your view on the matter, should data be treated as a commodity?