Data is as good as gold these days, and Americans are creating far more than they realize. For example, during 2020, it is estimated that the typical person created 1.7 megabytes of data every second of every day.
It’s also incredibly valuable, and many companies are willing to spend billions to get their hands on it – using such data to help brands target potential customers is, after all, the bread and butter of companies like Google and Meta. The collection and sale of personal or consumer data has even created an entire industry of data brokers, which itself is worth hundreds of billions of dollars and includes companies such as Experian and Spokeo.
In short: your data is valuable. So how much would a typical person be willing to sell it for if they could, say, auction it off?
We’ve got a good number: The average American shopper would be willing to sell their personal information for $1,452.25, according to survey data from CouponBirds, a coupon and consumer information website.
The survey included responses from more than 3,500 consumers in the United States, and the CouponBirds team was also able to break down the data by state — they found that people in Colorado would hypothetically ask more for their personal data, with more more than $2,800. Conversely, people in Tennessee ask for the least: $623.04.
From that data set, here are the states where people would ask the most and the least for their personal data if it were hypothetically put up for auction:
States with the highest values:
- 1. Colorado: $2,820.67
- 2. Nebraska: $2,784.75
- 3. Wyoming: $2,347.33
- 4. MINNESOTA: $2,202.55
- 5. Oklahoma: $2016.00
States with the lowest values:
- 50. Tennessee: $623.04
- 49. Idaho: $742.30
- 48. Michigan: $801.17
- 47. Mississippi: $866.43
- 46. Utah: $919.75
Apparently, states in parts of the West and Midwest place a premium on their records, something that seems to be related to the ingrained sense of individualism in those parts of the country. But this raises another key question: How must Do Americans value their personal data? While few people actually have the choice of handing over their data for money, it is changing hands. Is $1,450 a fair price?
It depends and it can be impossible to tell. Some people’s data is worth more than others. Men’s personal data tends to be worth more, for example, according to a 2020 analysis by Mackeeper, and youth data (ages 18-24) is the most valued.
There has also been some research into what people should be paid to stop using online services such as search engines or social media networks – which effectively act as data vacuums. It would take more than $17,500 a year to get the average person to stop using Google, and more than $500 a year to get them to deactivate their Facebook account.
For those who want to get off the Big Data wild ride altogether, there’s not much you can do. Data brokers are operating in a largely unregulated space and fighting back would take a lot of effort. But the main thing is to know that your data is out there, it has value, and it’s probably more valuable than you think. And, again, anyone who has it can do pretty much anything they want with it, without letting you know.
“Within the law, anyone can do almost anything with your data,” Bennett Cyphers, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said recently. Fast company. “And they don’t have to tell anyone about it.”