Why You Should Get Paid For Your Data And Information

A new form of collective poverty is appearing but do you know what it?

I grew up in the early 90’s when mobile phones, laptops and other devices were only being pursued. At the time, people didn’t really know what was possible from data. During my short career to date, I have worked with technology that has enabled us to track consumer movement around a given area(e.g. a shopping centre), and that is only at a basic level.  

The one thing hidden behind our mobile phones, laptops and other devices is what I would like you to think about. This is a subject I’ve spent more time with over the last 6-12 months in partnership with the DataUnion and Erik Rind.When I have been interviewing key industry leaders and academics, as part of a brand-new podcast that I am hosting.

You could call it a new form of collective poverty that many of us don’t recognise.

I'm sure you've noticed that in the last 10 or so years, a particular asset has emerged. It's been generating wealth at speed. Quicker than a Formula One car at times. It has brought businesses deep customer insights, efficiencies and enormous top-line growth. However, for some, it has also provided an asset to manipulate or ‘tap into’ things like general elections or even what we are talking about at home to our families. You guessed it – DATA!

Seven out of the top 10 most valuable companies in the world are tech companies that either directly generate profit from data or are empowered by data from the core. A recent survey by Mckinsey shows most decision makers (C-Suite) regard data as an essential asset for their business.

Data is basically making personal, economic, and political shifts. Essentially, if you own data, you own some part of our future.


The challenge will only get stronger as well. According to Martech, It is estimated that by 2030, there will be about 125 billion connected devices in the world. That's an average of 15 devices per person. We are already producing data every day, and by 2030, we will be producing a lot more.According to the most recent records I could find, some of the biggest social media companies and search engines like Google and Facebook’s combined revenue in 2018 in the billions.

Out of interest, how many of you have received payment from them for the data you generate for them? I am guessing, you don’t?

Data is one of the most valued assets in the world, but its centrally controlled and owned. Whilst you are using these different platforms, different companies are churning money, but no one is being paid for it.

Also, whilst we use each of these platforms, we are not considered part of the equation.

My question to you:

What if we looked at the ownership of data in a whole new way. Instead of all your data being used by some of the largest technology companies in the world, what if, we were allowed to privatise our own data?

Think about this in practice. Your data could help to develop a new drug for a disease, it could be used by charities to understand different indicators.There is so much potential to help social and private good.

I am sure some of you are thinking about the legalities about data ownership. I am not a legal person but from what I know, ‘ownership’ is when you can either possess, use, gift, pass on, destroy or trade at a price accepted by you.

What if we gave the same definition to your personal data. Instead of Facebook using your data to sell branded advertisements, you could trade that information for a chosen price?

How does that sound to you?

Have I got you thinking about your own bank account?

For example, you could choose to donate your data to a particular medical research project that was meaningful for you. On the other hand, if we had the tools and resources to set our behaviour data at a price of, say, 250,000 (in your local currency!), I doubt many of us would receive any targeted advertisements, and we wouldn’t see advertisements from only one political party. The power has then changed that means you control and decide.

There might be some of you who are thinking – “But I would never provide my data for free?”
However, this is exactly what we are all doing right now, we are giving away our data for free.

Or maybe for the odd newsletter that lands in our junk mail.

The good news is that there are a lot of initiatives out there tackling the monetisation of personal data.

I presume you think Google is never going to leave us don’t you?


Think again. A search engine is indispensable. You could say Google just has a monopoly at the moment. A search engine called DuckDuckGo doesn't store your personal information or follow you around with ads or track your personal browsing history. Instead, it gives all users the same search results instead of based on your personal browsing records.

In the UK, there is a company called digi.me offering users a safe place to consolidate your data generated by your Fitbit, Spotify, social media accounts etc.Interestingly, digi.me then will help you to sweat your data so it is constantly working for you.

In the USA, there is a company called UBDI (Universal BasicData Income), that helps people to make money by sharing anonymous insights through their data for companies that can use them for market research. I actually interviewed the Co-Founders in a podcast that you can listen to here –UBDI& The ResearchGeek Podcast

In summary, the monetisation of personal data is not something individual governments can do by themselves. It’s something that we can only do collaboratively with the public, private and public sector. The value of data will only increase with more businesses starting in each sector.

Who knows? Your personal data one day might be more valuable than a Ferrari ora different sports car!

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