Putting A Price On Privacy

Ryan Calo, a residential fellow at the Center for Internet & Society, is quoted in The International Herald Tribune on the value of personal information online. Steve Lohr reports:

I recently wrote a 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, like Root Market years ago, have tried making a business from trading click streams and other online personal information on behalf of consumers. But part of the calculation by the start-up, Bynamite, is that these days, the data are 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 tradable 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.