Should Google be Paying You?

Graphic Credit: Bernadette Berdychowski

Graphic Credit: Bernadette Berdychowski


In the past year, many major news publications have written about consumer data monetization and what it means for us. In the New York Times article, “Your Data is Crucial to a Robotic Age. Shouldn't You be Paid for It?”, Eduardo Porter explains how “getting companies to pay transparently for the information will not just provide a better deal for the users whose data is scooped up as they go about their online lives. It will also improve the quality of the data on which the information economy is being built.”

Basically, it means getting paid for your data — every search, every song played, every ad watched could make you money. In addition, on February 12, in his first State of the State address, newly appointed California Governor, Gavin Newsom, proposed a plan to tax the tech elite of California and redistribute the wealth to the data-rich consumers, the everyday individual. This plan could pave the way for other tech-wise states including New York, North Carolina, or Washington to implement a similar idea.

What does this mean for the typical college student? Well, instead of selling your blood or plasma you could just as easily make money by selling what you’ve done on Instagram or Facebook the past week to companies like Dawex. Dawex, according to their website, is “the data marketplace for sharing, acquiring and monetizing data.” While this idea sounds good in theory, Ideas Contributor at WIRED, Antonio García Martínez, argues, in his article, “No, Data is Not the New Oil”, that “You’re not contributing to some limited pool of data on whose resulting revenue you can stake a claim; you’re an infinitesimally small part of a data cooperative whose benefits accrue to the very users that generated it.” Also, Dawex has only raised €2 million in funding since June 2016. It’s not looking too bright for third-party monetization.

Realistically, consumer data monetization will probably not be a thing any time in the near future. This is mainly due to the five-headed-tech-dragon that is Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple. They already have an enormous pool of consumer data, which makes your data not special. Also, you have already consented to give them your data for free in the Terms and Conditions documents you agree to before using their service. All five explicitly state in their terms that if you don’t like the terms, you cannot use the service.

So go ahead, boycott Facebook, use Bing instead, buy a flip-phone. It won’t change the fact that they already have your data.