Sell yourself to Google for $5
Google is willing to pay you for additional tracking of your online habits -- but if you want in on the deal, you'll have to get in line.
This post comes fromSarah Morgan at partner siteSmartMoney.
The web giant's Screenwise program offers consumers the opportunity to let Google track their Internet activity -- and get paid for it. Google offers participating "panelists" a $5 Amazon gift card for signing up and additional $5 gift cards every three months, up to $25 total.
But given that experts estimate an individual's personal data can be worth as much as $5,000, consumers who sign up may be selling themselves short. "I'd probably want a little bit more," says David Jacobs, a consumer-privacy fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit focused on privacy, civil liberties and technology issues.
For all the concerns over Internet privacy, Google is actually having to turn people away. The site currently says "we are overwhelmed by your interest at the moment" and doesn't allow new sign-ups. Post continues below.
To be sure, this is an entirely opt-in program, and consumers have been joining focus groups and letting Nielsen spy on their TV habits for small fees or prizes for years. The program also doesn't create targeted ads, and that kind of information is generally worth more money than aggregate data about general browsing habits. A spokesman for Google says, "This is a small, optional, online panel, similar to others run by many Web and media companies."
Google already tracks what sites people using its Chrome browser visit, as well as what people search for. This program likely allows for more in-depth tracking, potentially including information such as how long users stay on a particular site or possibly even where their mouse moves on a page, Jacobs says. The basic description Google provides simply says users will let Google see "the sites you visit and how you use them."
The bigger question, Jacobs says, is what programs like this do to our conception of privacy and what it's worth. Does a $5 price tag "devalue privacy," or does creating a clear marketplace for data increase the value of something most of us are currently just giving away? "It might just be something that causes people to realize that their information has monetary value in a way that they didn't realize before," he says.
More on SmartMoney and MSN Money:
Wow, didn't know G-O-O-G-L-E-C-U-S-T-O-M-E-R spelled "sucker."
I really don't think people, especially those under 30, realize how big of a deal this is. Google is researching the perfect method of inundating your very existance with CONSTANT marketing. Every time you connect to the internet at home or work, they want to force-feed you advertising that is targeted directly at what interests you. Every time you connect mobily or at a hotspot, you will be fed locational ads that will target your weaknesses. At an airport for a layover? You will be bombarded by ads for food. And since airport prices are near-extortion, we know you had previously decided to not eat anything during the layover. Then comes the marketing and suddenly you feel a pang, then you give in. As you travel around using your phone, you can expect ads for commercial businesses nearby to come in via im, text and even smartphone-based GPS apps. And people are willing to sell out themselves AND all the rest of us for $5!
This is NOT a good thing. Just go back and watch Blade Runner's various LA streetscape scenes for an idea of how intrusive advertising can become if we let it.
A company wants to buy something that you produce without active effort, is harvested without any significant inconvenience to you, can't possibly put to any use by you, and can't possibly be depleted (nothing prevents you from selling the same information to Microsoft, Google, and any number of other interested companies). People think it's a horrible deal because they're not getting enough for it? I feel like I'm missing something here.
double-o7, nothing prevents you from selling yourself to Bing and Google for a total of $9.99.
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