Data Scraping

Who Should Profit From Selling Your Personal Data

Data Scraping Has Turned You Into a Hot Commodity

March 27, 2018, Spencer Phade

For decades companies have been practicing data scraping and data mining to improve their own businesses. Is it time you start doing it yourself for a profit?

Data scraping has turned you into a hot commodity

The collection of personal data online, or data scraping, has reached levels never seen before. Every day we are learning more about the extent to which large companies are collecting and using data they collect about every single one of us.

It clearly exemplifies the mantra that when something is free to use, you yourself are the product. And with so many companies profiting by selling your personal data, it raises one important question.


Should you skip the middleman and sell your own data?

For decades companies have been practicing data scraping and data mining to improve their own businesses.

The concept of loyalty and rewards programs really took off in the 1980’s where companies offered rewards based on purchasing habits. Companies could then increase consumer spending while also tracking their purchasing habits. Data scraping and data mining opened new opportunities to get to know their customers on an individual level.

These types of programs were then taken to a whole new level in the digital era when the amount and accuracy of the data that could be collected increased exponentially.

And with the invention of social media platforms, we have been slowly conditioned to share even the most personal pieces of information about ourselves online.

Now, this may seem scary at first and an invasion of privacy. It may even bring thoughts of “Big Brother.”

But, despite that, there have been huge benefits to us through companies' practices of data scraping and data mining.

Next time you check your travel time to work or school with Google Maps or Waze, and they tell you that there is a 15-minute delay, you can thank that fact that everyone else stuck in traffic have unknowingly shared their location, so you can be sure to not miss that big meeting or exam.

This is just one of the many examples of one of the amazing services we now take for granted. And it’s free to boot.

But how can something so useful cost you nothing? Well, it doesn’t. You pay for it with your personal data.

There is no doubt that there is a hard value that can be attached one your personal data. But in the age of digital marketing and targeted advertising, companies are getting better at putting an exact price on your personal information. So that raises another question.


Can you put a price on your own data?

Some people certainly think so.

Chris Downs, CEO of Normally, first experimented with the concept in 2000. He collected all the data he could from his bank, credit card companies, utilities companies, credit reference companies, and the supermarket that he had loyalty cards at. He then compiled this data and was able to sell it on eBay for the sum of £150. And this was all before the truly digital era of Facebook, smartphones, and Google.

Now this was just a small experiment from over a decade ago. But fast forward 18 years to the present day, and the amount of personal data we have shared has expanded ten-fold.

Google has already experimented with this idea through their platform Google Opinion Rewards. Through their app, you will be prompted to answer questions about businesses you have visited based on your location data, personal questions about your age range, or your income range, and even your education level.

Based on your answers, Google rewards you with credits that you can use as cash to purchase apps and other products through their Google Play store.

But can you take this one step further? Can this be done on an even bigger scale where you get real money in exchange for your information?

A company called Datacoup is betting on it. They act as a data-broker and have created an online market place where you can control and sell your data to firms that are interested in finding out more about you.

And they are just one of the many firms that are popping up as people are becoming more aware of how much their personal information is really worth.

In a world where online privacy is becoming harder and harder to control, should we just give in and try to get the most for our data? Or should we take a stand and do our best take control of our privacy?

When it comes down to it, it seems for the near future that our personal information is out there for the taking. But if you could find a way to sell your data, would you do it?

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