HOUSTON - Tech companies such as Google and Facebook sell your data, the information you reveal about yourself when you're clicking or shopping online. Now some companies are turning the tables, letting consumers sell their own data.
Many people feel tracking and selling your data is an invasion of your privacy. So this handful of companies want to give you some control, enabling you to make that "data dividend."
Every web page or social media post you click on or scroll over is being tracked and sold to advertisers. Your interests, your purchases, your political leanings.
"Companies are using it to make hundreds of billions of dollars. That's a lot of the profits for Google and Facebook," said Dr. Don Vaughn with Invisibly.com.
Companies like Invisibly say, hey, it's your data. You should get paid for it.
"What we do is we take that data and we go out to advertisers and we say is anyone interest in for example finding new football gear, or things like that, and advertisers will pay you for that data," said Vaughn.
Vaughn says you choose what data you share, and what types of advertisers you share it with.
"You get paid out $5 to $10 a month. And when that accrues in your account and you want to cash out, you can cash it out on PayPal or Venmo or your bank, gift cards, things like that," explained Vaughn.
If $5 to $10 a month doesn't sound like much, he says its about more than cash. It's about control.
"I just feel like the only way forward to level the playing field is to give people back control of their data," he said.
But Haley Tsukayama with the online privacy advocate Electronic Frontier Foundation takes a different view.
"Instead of really working to change the system, it incentivizes people to stay in a system that really doesn't work for them," said Tsukayama.
Rather than you selling your own data, EFF says it would rather see companies required to get your permission or opt-in before they sell your data.
"What we would like to see for consumers is to have control, to be able to say don't collect my data, don't sell my data. Even better if companies had to come and ask you first," said Tsukayama.
It's important to note, selling your own data doesn't prevent companies like Google, from selling it, too. They'll still be selling it.
Other businesses that enable you to sell some of your data include:
Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel
National Consumer Panel
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