Would you sell your personal data?
The headline ‘Achmea offers discount for sharing private information’ was all over Dutch news websites last week. The Dutch health insurance company is going to give customers that install measuring devices in their car or house and share data, a discount on their insurance premium. An example is a ‘black box’ in your car that shows your driving habits. If you stick to the speed limit and do not drive reckless, then you get rewarded with a reduction.
People on the internet react indignant to this news. But let’s be honest, companies are collecting and selling data for years now. Every time you visit a website, buy something online or send a message, you leave information. Personal information is valuable for organisations; it has lots of benefits and provides countless opportunities.
But how much are your personal data worth? According to the Financial Times the average person’s data often retails for less than a dollar. Marketers are willing to pay more to reach consumers at major life events that prompt major changes in buying patterns, whether that’s becoming a new parent, moving homes, getting engaged, buying a car, or going through a divorce (Financial Times, 2013). The more intimate the information, the more valuable it is.
What do you think? May your insurer know everything about you, if they give you discount? Or are you afraid that your privacy is violated? One viewpoint is that such sharing of information helps economies and improves our own experiences online. The internet is a largely free service, and sharing personal data is the price we pay (The Guardian, 2014). Others are not happy with this situation, claiming that the use of information with consent is a violation of privacy. They think people should have the right to choose what to share and to be paid for their own information (The Guardian, 2014).
Achmea leaves the choice to its customers. Discount or privacy, what do you choose?