It seems that some people do not want that their privacy is infringed, with an exception if they are able to make money out of it. This is a rather strange stance to privacy, as it is actually a call for a lazy way of making money with low risks. Besides that I cannot see this works out in practice, it is just shameful that people want to sell their fundamental rights.

Recently, a new form of being subject to profiling technologies emerged: a couple of small companies will take control over parts of your personal data and sell them on your behalf to advertising firms and profiling companies. This is promoted as a means of taking back control over your privacy. However, reality is different.

Yes, selling your privacy is a bit like part-time slavery. If you are willing to sell your fundamental rights, in this case, the right to develop your identity, you are doing something very wrong. If someone were to enslave himself on a pay per use basis, people would probably react with repulsion. Nevertheless, it is comparable to monetising your privacy, as you are trying to make money of a fundamental right.

Are you THAT Cheap?
Wanting to monetise your own privacy is not so much about people caring about their privacy, it is about people that see how companies like Google and Facebook built a very successful business on profiling technologies. Those people simply want to jump on the bandwagon and start making some money with their part in the profiling process.

Apparently, monetising your own privacy is about making easy money by giving up a fundamental right. Saying that this is an act out of love for privacy is just nonsensical: you are still giving away your privacy, but now for money.

Furthermore, I do not see this working in practice. If I were a company that uses profiling for marketing, and you would sell me your information to target you with selected adverts, I would make sure that you end up paying me more than I paid you. This can easily be done as the chances are fairly high you buy the expensive products I present you when I use good profiling techniques.

So what? What is your Problem?
Actually, I am not sure whether I should have a problem with this. If you would give up a fundamental right for money, it is your call. On the other hand, maybe you are in such dire need of cash, that you are easily taken advantage of. In that case, you may need protection. It is, of course, to protect citizens against more powerful citizens or companies, that we do not allow giving up fundamental rights so easily, which is a good thing: it helped us getting rid of slavery. Nevertheless, there are cases where people can give up rights. For example, with euthanasia, citizens can give up the right to life.

This offers a whole range of discussion, which is especially difficult for social-liberals, as this issue lives between protecting individual freedom and making sure that everyone has the chance to enjoy this freedom. Commonly, I feel that fundamental rights are of such importance, that they should be guarded extremely well. In other words, I am quite happy with the European Convention on Human Rights, even when it sometimes results in some bureaucracy.

Identity: I want to Build it my Way
Well, you got me. I believe that people should be free to develop their own identity as they believe is best. If that means selling some information to a marketing company or using a privacy infringing application, that is fine. Nobody defines how you should develop your identity, and if someone were to define it, the whole meaning of the concept would be destroyed.

So, yes, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with monetising your personal data. It does not even harm your right to develop your own identity, as long as you know what is happening. Nevertheless, I do not believe it will make you rich. And, please, stop calling it an act of privacy, because it is not.

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One Response to Monetising Privacy: it is a bit like Slavery

  1. […] Another popular technique in debates is reverse profiling. Basically, the user itself collects his personal data and decides per site how much is given to this website. From the viewpoint of the user, I cannot understand why you would want the hassle of profiling yourself, if your best option out of privacy concerns would be no profiling at all. When money is involved as incentive in such a solution, it is even worse. […]

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