In today’s world, our personal data — location, e-mail’s, photo’s, and anything else you produce online — is collected everywhere and at any moment. It is being saved and analyzed. Large companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple do this. They do not only use the collected personal data to provide tailor-made advertisements. It is being used to analyze our lives and predict our behavior and movements in the future. For instance, Target figured out a teen girl was pregnant before her father did [1,2,3]. The data-mining algorithm of Target saw that the girl was buying a specific set of products. It concluded from this that the teen girl was pregnant. Target therefore sent her coupons for baby clothes and cribs. When the father saw the coupons he demanded an explanation from Target why his daughter had received such coupons. Then the truth came out that his daughter was actually pregnant.
On 28 October 2013 there was a very interesting broadcast on the Dutch television program Tegenlicht about this topic. Since companies profit a lot from our personal data, it is questioned if people should get paid for their data and gain more control over it. It was then when I first came in contact with Datacoup. Datacoup lets people choose which personal data they sell. It is possible to connect a number of American credit card vendors and several social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursqure, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, Youtube, Flickr and Last.fm) to Datacoup. Datacoup tries to sell the personal data either directly or trends found in it and that of others. It gives you an overview of your personal data such as your credit card spending, places you have been, age cluster of your friends and how big your data is. The images below give an impression of Datacoup in its current state.
Up to this moment Datacoup was in beta and invite only. Data which user choose to sell, was not yet being sold to actual companies but to Datacoup itself. Till now I made 3 each month. At the end of each month users receive an e-mail with an update on how much money they made. The e-mail of the month April included an important update:
“An important update regarding payouts to users for data: The amount and structure of payments is changing. We are trying to launch the platform publicly in June. As you know, we are a cash-strapped startup, and we’ve been paying you (our users) out of our own pockets. In order to conserve cash before the launch, we will not be purchasing any user data during the month of May. In June, we will unveil a new structure for payouts to our growing user-base. Our team wants to extend our sincerest gratitude for your participation in the beta, and future participation in the fully-launched platform. There are only better things to come!”
So Datacoup is going public and data is actually going to be sold to companies. Up to this point I joined Datacoup as a personal experiment. I wonder how Datacoup is going to change and how selling your personal data will actually be implemented, works and for how much money it is sold.