How much is your privacy worth?

privacy valueHow much is your privacy worth? Take for example your bank account number, sort code, name, and address. Is it worth more than £25? Well I think that it is and as a result I will have to cancel my early retirement and forego the £25 promised to me.

This all came about when I realised that it would cost me more to buy new ink for my printer than say blood, vodka, and even crude oil. Having decided it would be cheaper to buy a new printer altogether I was promised a £25 cashback on the purchase price and took the plunge.

As it turned out the plunge demonstrated a play by the promotions company on society’s inability to understand the value of our personal data. Epson, or rather the promotions company gave this cashback in exchange for personal data. This much was expected, however the only method of receiving payment was via direct bank transfer which required that my personal data and bank account and sort code be provisioned together. In fact, the Federal Reserve System fact, the Federal Reserve System’s “Top Five Tips for Protecting Your Checking Account” ranks this as its top offense: “Don’t give your account number and bank routing information to anyone you don’t know.”

I received a lovely email from Epson’s customer service desk (yes I was one of those customers!), which informed me that my data cannot be accessed by non-authorised parties and is secured at all times. Well thank you, but it’s not as secure as it is right now since I have not given them to you.

Whilst I can spend the remaining white space venting, it’s worthwhile noting that this approach of garnering personal data and providing very little back to consumers is reaching boiling point. I have witnessed data being provided in exchange for chocolate, and more recently where customers of loyalty programs are having to give money for a card that allows marketers to track their transactions.

We live in a world in which data is becoming a key commodity with real value. The actual value of data is high whereas the perceived value is rock bottom. If we are willing to give away our bank account details for the price of a Nando’s meal, and accept non-specific assurances that it is secure, well we may as well email our personal data to sellers on underground forums. While we fail to appreciate the value of our own data, there’s ample evidence to suggest that they don’t.

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