Commentary

Andrew Yang Wants Dollars For Data

Should brands have to pay consumers for the data they collect on them? 

You bet, says Andrew Yang, the former Democratic Presidential hopeful. Yang has launched an initiative called the Data Dividend Project, which is designed to make payment for data mandatory under law.  

“Stop letting the tech companies mooch off of us and our data and let’s get our fair share,” Yang says in a video on the project’s site.   

Get it? If you have an email list, it could well end up costing you money if you try to use it. 

This is not a new idea. The privacy fringe suggested it years ago, but what seemed wacky then is now becoming part of mainstream thought. 

Many consumers are willing to provide data in return for benefits, although that generally is limited to identifiers such as name, phone number and email address. Some will share gender and age (as if brands couldn’t figure out those things on their own).

But those data points are a far cry from “what you search, what you watch, watch you like, what you buy, where you go, what you do,” as the video says, adding that "Big Tech is watching you."

The video says the California Consumer Privacy Act “recognizes that your data is yours.” But as The Verge points out, “there’s nothing in the law about tech companies paying for data (or, more specifically, paying them not to opt out),  

However, the Data Dividend Project is offering to help consumers push for similar laws in other states.

“We can negotiate on your behalf,” it says, while reiterating: “We believe if that if companies want to profit off something you own, you should get a slice of that money.” 

California residents could get checks as early as next year, it says. But there’s a problem: How can a business that can’t even get attribution straight determine who owes money on the data pouring in from innumerable sources? 

Andrew Yang impressed many voters during the debates with his cool manner and forward-thinking ideas. Some people think we could do worse than to have a Yang in the White House. 

But this is one of those ideas that needs more fleshing out. It’s one thing to suggest it, and another to have to implement.it. 

 

 

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