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Selling Personal Data for Storage Space

We live in a world where internet adverts are targeted to what websites we’ve been viewing or what we searched; a world where you can login to apps or websites using your Facebook profile; a world where your email address and phone number is needed to enter a competition. Sometimes you might not realise it, but these are all examples of your personal data being gathered and utilised for the gain of someone (usually a business!) else.

Of course, for some people this might not bother them. It could be said that this is simply an accepted fact about being online – that nothing you do is ever truly anonymous and that you’re constantly being tracked. Indeed, in light of the Edward Snowden revelations it certainly seems that way. While privacy has become a growing concern for individuals, it has become a growing opportunity for businesses in multiple ways.

Ctrl-Shift is a London-based marketing consultancy. They claim that there is an average of one new personal information management service (PIMS) a week. These are services that are established to help users have more control over their personal data. The company claim that the market, currently emerging, could be worth £16.5 billion ($27.5 billion) in the United Kingdom alone. Personal data management, data vaults and data monitoring are all aspects that have growth potential.

“One of the big growth areas we are seeing is in personal data management and identity services,” said Alan Mitchell, strategy director at Ctrl-Shift. “These are all services which help individuals gather data about themselves, store it, analyze it, and then control who they share the data with. Other services can help people remain anonymous.”

The Respect Network is a company that are building what they call a “trust network”. They have grouped together around 70 businesses and open source organisations globally to establish a private cloud network and peer-to-peer data sharing site.

Users pay a one-time fee of $25 and will gain access to the network, along with 1GB of cloud storage space from a provider of their choice, from a selection that have signed the Respect Network’s terms of use. The terms of use require that participating services only use user data by permission; these cloud services are ranked by the users on various issues, like their data protection track record and respect for user privacy.

Users can also sell their private data to get more storage space. For example, an individual user’s taste in fashion could be sold. The brand pays access to that data and the money goes to the user, the cloud provider and the Respect Network.

There is also hope that websites will begin using the Respect Connect button. Just as users can login to websites using their Facebook or Twitter profiles, the Respect Connect button will establish a private connection between your cloud and that website’s cloud – “with no one in the middle watching your actions or having access to the data,” reads the company’s FAQ.

More information about the Respect Network, along with the ability to sign up with your unique username, can be found on their {{|official website}}.


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