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Who has my data? Most people disapprove of data selling

Consumers are becoming more aware about their data, how it is used and what it is used for. How will companies react?

Consumers are becoming more aware about their data, how it is used and what it is used for. How will companies react?
Consumers are becoming more aware about their data, how it is used and what it is used for. How will companies react?

Data privacy is becoming a hot topic these days. From April 23rd – May 3rd, 2021, a survey was undertaken of 1,320 people. The aim of the survey was to understand whether people approve of having their data sold for profit.

The reason for this concern is due to the increasing value of data as a commodity within the corporate world, both internal to a firm and as transactions between firms.

The survey also assessed how much people know about their data and whether they want to have more control over what happens to their data and if they expressed any interest in monetizing their data.

While it is possible for some people to derive economic value from data, both directly — by selling their data — and indirectly — by using their data to boost their revenue and reduce their costs.

The Invisibility survey found that 77 percent of people want to control who can access their data. The primary reason was because people have not consented to their data being licensed or sold, and that is a key area Invisibly is focused on changing.

Commenting on the broad findings of the survey, Dr. Don Vaughn, Head of Product at Invisibly, states: “Invisibly is giving people control over what data is licensed or shared with companies. Data consent is a huge industry issue right now and we are on a mission to give people control and consent over the data they share.”

The survey also found that 79 percent of people do not approve of companies profiting from their data. Whether this view would change if companies paid something for the data is a different story.

It is certainly clear that those surveyed were aware that many firms make money either directly from the data or via selling the data. Here, 71 percent of respondents know that companies routinely profit off their data (and this mean that a surprisingly high proportion, at 29 percent of respondents, were unaware).

With the selling of data, there was a gender difference. The poll finds that men are more likely to be aware that their data can be sold for profit.

Especially where data is bundled and sold between one company and another, 77 percent of respondents want to control who can access their data.

It is for these reasons that some have called for a system termed “digital agency”, according to a report in Harvard Business Review. This can be defined as the ability of users to own the rights to their personal data. This includes managing access to this data and, potentially, be compensated fairly for such access.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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