There are companies out there that profit from tracking and using or selling information about consumers. Social connections, contact information, interests, browsing habits – knowing these is very valuable to companies and they are willing to pay a high price for quality information.
However, there’s also the ethical component. Taking this information about customers without their knowledge (even if it’s due to naivete) rubs many, myself included, the wrong way.
What if we give consumers control over their own personal information by offering to resell it for them?
They can opt to give you access to their social graph (i.e. via facebook connect), a cookie to track their browsing, and personal information such as age, demographic, and address. Of course, you’d have sophisticated algorithms to verify that you’re dealing with an authentic account.
You’ll offer bundles of this information for sell to companies, priced by level of detail and type of information. When a company buys a bundle with your customer’s data in it, a payment is made to their account.
Yes, the information would still sold, but at least now internet users would be able to profit from the usage of their personal information. I think it may also have the long term effect of changing our understanding of who owns personal information and educating internet users about when and how they give away their data.
I also think this business model a gold mine just sitting there for anyone with the skills and interest.