The Economics Of Privacy Pricing

Ryan Calo, a residential fellow at the Center for Internet & Society, is quoted on the difficulty of determining the value of personal information in the marketplace:

I wrote a Sunday column about a San Francisco start-up that is betting the time has come to make personal information online not only an asset consumers can manage, but also a virtual currency that can be traded someday.

Others, of course, have tried making a business from trading click streams and other online personal information on behalf of consumers, like Root Market years ago. But part of the start-up Bynamite’s calculation is that these days, the data is far richer and the technology has matured enough to make such a service easy to use, effective and flexible. More people seem to be concerned about privacy today as well.

But if personal information can be made a good in an open marketplace, there is a big challenge. “There is no way to know in advance what the value of this information is,” said M. Ryan Calo, a senior research fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society.