NEWS28 October 2013

Privacy concerns delay sale of personal data on Kickstarter

Data analytics North America

US – Selling your personal data is harder than you’d think, if the experience of Federico Zannier is anything to go by.

Zannier hit the headlines in May when he took to Kickstarter with a trove of data about the places he’s been, the apps he’s used, the website he’s visited and other details about his life.

Explaining the idea at the time, Zannier said: “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?”

The answer was yes. Zannier received 213 backers and $2,733 in pledges – five times his target amount.

However, since 5 June, when the funding goal was reached, backers – including Research – have been waiting to receive the data Zannier promised.

He finally delivered today, along with an explanation for the delay.

“During the Kickstarter campaign, I realised that some of the data would contain personal information that was not my personal information,” he wrote. “While I accepted the fact that I would be sharing my privacy to the world, I did not want to compromise the privacy of my friends and family and those who were unaware of the project.

“Thus, I had to meticulously comb through 11.3 gigabytes of data – 40,000 images and 5,000 files – in order to mask information that I thought was compromising to someone else.

“It was a very long process, but one that I felt was extremely important, even if it meant delaying the delivery of the project. The fact that I took so much care in making sure that people were protected means that I believe in this: privacy is important. Yet, everyday we give it away without being aware of the terms of services and without realising how truly valuable it is.”

As a show of good faith, Zannier has said he will refund all pledges, minus fees.

He added: “I hope that we become more aware of the precarious line we are walking in regards to privacy and that we should be vigilant in today’s digital world in safeguarding something so valuable.”

  • To find out more about Zannier and his project, check out this interview in the digital version of Impact magazine.
  • We also have a week’s worth of Zannier’s data that needs to be analysed. If you’re interested in helping us, please email brian.tarran@mrs.org.uk.

@RESEARCH LIVE

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