Data Privacy Day 2016 — Time to Get Paid for Your Personal Data?

Despite an active website and Twitter feed, most folks do not realize that January 28th was chosen as a “birthday” celebration for privacy statutory rights given the first statutory privacy scheme came into being on 28 January 1981 when the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data was passed by the Council of Europe.  As pointed out four years ago, the purpose of this convention was to secure for residents respect for “rights and fundamental freedoms, and in particular his right to privacy, with regard to automatic processing of personal data relating to him.”  It used to be heavily sponsored by Microsoft and Intel without much focus on how personal data is used for online behavioral marketing.  Perhaps spurred on by articles such as a recent one describing how Facebook values its users, the value of personal data is certainly more front and center on Data Privacy Day 2016.

As recognized today by an author writing about Date Privacy Day 2016, “you’re a walking, talking data source.”  The author goes on to discuss a project from the Harvard Data Privacy Lab springing from the fact “the average person has no idea just how much personal data is bought and sold.”

Data Privacy Lab director Latanya Sweeney, who is a former chief technology officer for the Federal Trade Commission, helped launch the project titled, “All the Places Personal Data Goes,” to illustrate the path personal info takes from one place to another.  According to the article, the Lab gathers “information on data buyers and sellers and make it available to journalists and others.  The project will also soon host a data-visualization competition to bring the issue to life.”  It is no surprise that the think tank created by publishing icons John and James Knight, the Knight Foundation, awarded the Lab’s project $440,000 to expand its efforts.

It’s very possible that after consumers read in the press exactly how valuable their personal data is to so many different companies they just might want in on the action.  The first company that helps make that a reality would certainly benefit consumers — as well as data buyers and sellers.