The adage “if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product” rings truer in 2020 than ever before, leading some of us to ask: how much am I, a product, worth? Former Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has an answer–and a proposition that might make all of us a little bit of cash.
The Data Dividend Project, courtesy of Yang himself, has a simple goal: to put the actual value of data back into the pockets of the people providing it. Yang is perhaps best known for his “Freedom Dividend” initiative in which he proposed a $1000-per-month stipend for Americans; paying Americans for their information use seems like a natural evolution of this philosophy.
“Data brokering…[is] a $200 billion industry” points out the Data Dividend Project website. It’s only fair that you, the data provider, receive a bit of a kickback for playing your part.
What’s so terrifying about the data industry is how people don’t just experience data theft–they willingly give away their information in exchange for services that they deem “free”, and in doing so, lose perhaps the most valuable commodity to which any of us can lay a claim. The DDP’s trajectory at least shows some promise of recompense.
The actual process of achieving payment for user data promises to be lengthy and potentially drawn-out. For now, Yang’s initiative asks only for enough information for the Data Dividend Project to be able to negotiate with companies who use your information to maintain a profit. This information comes complete with a tracking number so that you can keep an eye on DDP’s progress.
DDP also makes it clear that Californians are a priority, a decision predicated on CCPA legislation that protects citizen privacy, and allows them to opt out of sharing or selling data.
Yang’s current benchmark is to have a “mobilized” group of over a million participants by the end of 2020. This seems feasible as long as the DDP gains enough traction; this year has been extremely draining on most Americans, and the chance to reclaim some form of compensation for anything–especially information–is appealing.