What’s Your Personal Data Worth?

While survey finds UK consumers value their email address at £983, companies can actually buy yours for just 5p….

We all know that issues of privacy concerns are regularly in the news, and with good reason; when it comes to our own personal data – our email addresses, computers’ browsing history, current location, gender, marital status and more – these are pieces of information we don’t want falling into the wrong hands, whether these belong to marketing companies or people with more malicious intent…

So it’s probably no surprise that, as Brits, we value our personal data quite highly. But is it actually worth what we think it is? Credit comparison site TotallyMoney.com has carried out a survey (OnePoll, 1000) to find out what price UK consumers place on their data (compared to how much marketing companies actually pay for it), and how much they know about privacy issues, especially when it comes to social media.

The survey results make for interesting reading, the highlights of which are available in this infographic; http://www.totallymoney.com/personal-data/infographic/

One of the most interesting is that UK consumers, on average, value their email address at £983. That is quite high, but then most of us would expect only people we actually know – friends, family, or work-related individuals – to contact us on it. There’s nothing worse than being bombarded with companies trying to sell you products you have no interest in or pop up ads from random brands. But it might shock you to know that, in actuality, a marketing company can purchase your email address for just 5 pence. Then it can contact you as often as it likes, regardless of whether you’re really interested in double-glazing or car insurance or not.

When it comes to our private internet browsing history, on average, we value this at £934. We expect to be able to go onto sites that reflect our love of, say, cats, stilettos, or second world war re-enactments, without having those URLs passed on to companies who can then try and sell us cat litter, corn plasters, or stick-on military moustaches. Interestingly, however, men value their browsing history 29% higher than women: £1,057 compared to £817! We take it most blokes would be horrified, therefore, to learn that someone’s browsing history can be bought for just a fraction of a penny: £0.0014, to be precise.

In total, the average UK consumer values all their personal data at £2,031, though the youngest age group surveyed, 18-24 year olds, valued theirs the most out of any, at £2,152. Hardly surprising, considering they spend so much time online, and especially on social media. Again, men think their data is worth more than women’s; 21% more, to be precise, at £2,230 compared to £1,840. Is this because they have more secrets?! Whether they do or not, marketing companies can get hold of it dirt cheap, paying only 45p on average for 13 pieces of personal data.

But what might be most unsettling of all is how little we actually realise that our personal data is already being bought and sold, and by whom. Around 30 million Brits are signed up to Facebook – that’s nearly half the total population. However, nearly 40% of UK consumers have absolutely no idea that Facebook is selling their personal data to third parties; and TotallyMoney.com found that 52% of people would actually consider leaving Facebook due to personal data concerns (that rises to 60% when it comes to 18-24 year olds).

It’s clear that we have a bit of a knowledge gap when it comes to our own personal data,’ confirms Joe Gardiner from TotallyMoney.com. ‘It pays to be aware of how much we are actually putting out there, whether it’s via social media or otherwise, and to know that third parties have access to it, just by simply buying it. And once you know that social media networks actively sell your personal data on, you might think twice about what you put up there!

Author: Dylan Jones

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