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Thursday, 2 February 2012

Facebook IPO: YOU are the product - if we're not careful, market forces will conspire against YOUR interests

Over on the Open Digital Policy Blog I've started what should be a 3-5 part series on the economics of personal data.

Unless the public really start to view and treat personal data as a currency, the only customers in the market are advertisers, and market forces will conspire in the interests of advertisers - to the detriment of all internet users.

In my view we're faced with two choices: regulate to minimise the public harm, or modify the market in some way so that market forces conspire in the interests of the public.

The regulatory path has a couple of steep hurdles: ensuring regulatory bodies don't suffer capture and end up creating regulation in the interests of the few incumbents, and enforcement - how to enforce regulations when data is everywhere, at the core of so many businesses.

Will regulation work without the threat of overbearing enforcement actions and intrusive surveillance to ensure compliance?

And the free market path has equally steep hurdles. How to educate the public so they understand the currency of personal data? How to achieve clarity in the pricing so users can compare one service with another.  And how to maintain transparency and trust in the market, to ensure companies do what they say they do with our data.

Identonomics - the economics of personal data, audience and identity. Read part 1 now!


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