Data Power: Consumers Want To Own Their Information, Study Finds

Andrew Yang is on the right track with his idea that Americans should be paid for their data. 

A staggering 75% believe they should be paid before their data is used, and 77% feel ownership of their data should be a constitutional right, according to The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, a study by digital intelligence firm Ghostery, working with YouGov. 

In addition, 83% of respondents say companies should get their explicit consent before even collecting data on them. 

Consumers are wary — 68% feel the government does a poor or substandard job in regulating companies that abuse personal data. 

And 35% agree that they do not trust firms to keep location data and other information private and anonymized, even in times of crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

Email content ranks among the most valuable pieces of data. Americans believe they should be paid for use of: 

  • Internet browsing history — 49% 
  • Income and occupation — 46%
  • Location data — 45%
  • Email content — 37%
  • Age — 34%
  • Race/ethnicity — 27% 
  • Gender/sexual orientation — 26%
  • Relationship status — 19%
  • Religion — 16% 



How would payment work? That’s not clear, but 8% prefer to be paid a total sum for use of their data instead of being paid on an a la carte basis.  

At the same time, 78% believe companies should create versions of products that do not collect or share data without permission.

But don’t expect any of this to happen soon. 

“For years, Americans have voiced growing concerns over how their data is collected, stored and sold by companies, and when looking to federal authorities to protect them in this regard, all they’ve been able to count on is inaction,” states Jeremy Tillman, President, Ghostery. 

Tillman adds: “State by state, there are a hodgepodge of laws addressing consumer privacy but none have asked consumers directly what they want their protection to look like. We’ve asked them, and their voice is loud and clear, privacy is a human right and without consent or payment, their data should remain theirs.”

On behalf of Ghostery, YouGov surveyed 1,384 consumers online.  

Andrew Yang, the former Democratic Presidential hopeful. recently 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.  

Despite that, 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.”


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