Personal, a website that launched last November, encourages members to upload information (ranging from the trivial to the sensitive, including items such as student loan records, medical prescriptions and retirement accounts) into a “vault” and then grant access to other people or companies as they choose. Later this year, Personal plans to add a marketplace where people will be able to sell access to their information. An organization call the Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium formed in 2010 to encourage similar efforts and now has 30 members.
We’ve written in the past that individuals are willing to give up their information, or at least look past privacy concerns, if they were getting something in return, and companies such as Personal would appear to be well positioned to take advantage of that perspective.
However, as we have discussed recently in a context we call the Data Arms Race, companies are now swimming in information, and many have successfully gained valuable consumer data without paying anything to the consumer.
Additionally, as cyber-criminals well know, something as seemingly valuable as a credit-card number now sells for only a few cents on the black market because so many have been stolen that the market for them has collapsed. That is, information is easy to get.
It would appear to us that while companies value data more than ever, they likely won’t pay the consumer much for it.