Facepalm!? Users would tell Facebook their bank balance for $8.44 a month

Facepalm ?! Users would tell Facebook their bank balance for $8.44 a month

Study of people across six countries finds German users would charge most for sharing personal data

Fingers typing on keyboard
The study assessed how much privacy is worth in the US, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina. Photograph: Jenny Kane/AP

German Facebook users would want the social media platform to pay them about $8 per month for sharing their contact information, while US users would only seek $3.50, according to a study of how people in various countries value their private information.

The study by US-based thinktank the Technology Policy Institute (TPI) is the first that attempts to quantify the value of online privacy and data. It assessed how much privacy is worth in six countries by looking at the habits of people in the United States, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia and Argentina.

The study found Germans want to be paid more for letting technology platforms share their personal data with third parties followed by US consumers.

People across the board place the highest value on financial information such as bank balance and biometric information such as fingerprint data in particular, and consider location data the least valuable, the study found.

A technology platform, on average, across all people the study assessed, would have to pay consumers a monthly $8.44 to share their bank balance information, $7.56 to share fingerprint information, $6.05 to read an individual’s texts and $5.80 to share information on cash withdrawals.

By contrast people wanted to be paid only $1.82 per month to share location data and nothing to be sent advertisements via text message.

The study explores concern about how companies, from technology platforms to retailers, have been collecting and monetising personal data. US regulators have imposed hefty fines on Facebook Inc and YouTube for privacy violations.

“Quantifying the value of privacy is necessary for conducting any analysis of proposed privacy policies,” said Scott Wallsten, president and senior fellow at TPI.

The study found Latin American consumers have a preference for seeing advertisements on their smartphone, in contrast to US residents and Germans.

US lawmakers are working on a federal privacy legislation while states like California have put in place a new privacy law. On Tuesday the California attorney general, Xavier Becerra, sent a letter to four top US lawmakers urging them not to pre-empt the state’s new privacy law with watered-down federal legislation.

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