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Sunday, 29 November 2015

Man takes to Kickstarter to sell trove of personal data

US — A New York-based former Accenture consultant has spent the past several months collating data about himself which he’s now looking to sell direct to advertisers.

Federico Zannier – who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in interactive telecommunications at New York University – has been recording all of his online activity since February, including the web pages he’s visited, mouse pointer location and screenshots of what he was looking at.

In addition, Zannier has also compiled all his GPS location data, a log of the apps that he uses on his phone as well as regular webcam images of himself, what he posts on social media sites, his emails and what he buys online.

By September, he expects to have amassed about 7 gigabytes of data – and he’s selling it all on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter.

Pledges start at $2, which gives backers access to an entire day’s worth of data, right up to $200 for the full archive. Higher-level backers also get access to some of the tools Zannier used to record his own data.

Initially he was only looking to generate $500 but he’s bust his target after just three days and already has pledges totalling almost $900 at the time of writing [Editor’s note – we’ve chipped in $5 for a week’s worth of data].

Writing on his Kickstarter page, Zannier said: “I spend hours every day surfing the internet. Meanwhile, companies like Facebook and Google have been using my online information (the websites I visit, the friends I have, the videos I watch) for their own benefit.

“In 2012, advertising revenue in the United States was around $30 billion. That same year, I made exactly $0 from my own data. But what if I tracked everything myself? Could I at least make a couple bucks back?”

We’ve written several times before about the personal information economy and the tools that are now available to help consumers take control of their data. But Zannier is the only person we know about to be trying to sell their data direct to advertisers. Does this make him the first Insumer?


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Readers' comments (5)

  • This is an ingenious way to find out what our data is worth to companies, and to expose all the tracking that goes on when we use the Internet.

    The current movement around "personal data clouds" and "intentcasting" will hopefully do away with a large amount of the unnecessary tracking and desperate advertising that companies feel they have to buy into in order to appeal to potential customers.

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  • Spotted this here, and made a blogpost in Dutch with credits to this one ofcourse

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  • I'm not sure how this is of any value unless everyone does it. He can't be considered representative of any particular group without there being a much great "n" value to this - why would anyone pay for this - he's one person and why would anyone care what one person is doing. He's likely to be so distinctly different from everyone around him that without a real segmentation study, its useless information and thus not worth anything to anyone in my view. All it allows you to analyse is one persons behavior in regard to his patterns and choices - nothing valuable there. If on the otherhand you had everyone doing this it might be worth something but in order to buy it from everyone, it would be cheaper to do a national survey!

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  • No - he's not the first insumer. I sold all my personal data on Ebay in 2002!

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  • To be fair, while he has not been paid for his data, he has received free services including free news (saving him a subscription fee), free Facebook (how expensive would it be otherwise to stay in touch with his friends), etc. The bigger issue is that we just don't have transparency in what you are getting for your data. Shameless plug for an article I wrote about this exact topic:

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