March 28, 2023

Get Paid for Your Data: Andrew Yang and the Movement to Take Your Data Back.

Regularly reviewing the news headlines tells us that some people are prepared to sell just about anything they can, from a kidney to their life-giving blood, to raise money. Why not? Who doesn’t need a few extra bucks? But maybe there’s a better way. Why not sell personal information? No surgeon required. Time to sit up and take notice. There are individuals working to make this a reality.

There’s an app for that.

Applications have popped up that will openly, with the user’s permission and through the magic of code, collect and distribute personal data. Through a variety of methods, including scraping social media sites, they gather your personal information and anonymize it. Next, it’s consolidated with other user data, packaged up, and made ready for sale. But within the app, the user decides what information is divulged and to whom it is made available. And in return, they are paid. But who wrote the app? Do you understand how it all really works?

It’s all about trust.

Amidst the ongoing discussion around privacy, identity theft, and personal identifiable information (PII), assume for a moment that the individual could exercise some degree of control over the collection and distribution of their personal data. The question is how to know whom to trust with it if you decide to sell it. Is the person who developed that app actually a state agent, or some nefarious black hat hacker? If they are legitimate, are they competent to protect your data?

Do people even care anymore, and does it matter?

There will be people from across the spectrum when it comes to comfort levels and handing out of their personal data. Some simply won’t care. Others may feel it’s too late to undo the damage. But being given the opportunity to profit from it might change some minds. Money can have this effect.

What if?

Consider, for a moment, if a credible player entered the scene. One that drew a high degree of trust. If one charismatic leader, supported by enough politicians and the public could wrestle back some degree of ownership of personal data, what would the future look like? If this person set up a system for end-users of the data to pay for it, and for that money to go to the public from which it was derived, how many people would get on board? Enter Andrew Yang.

For anyone who doesn’t know Andrew Yang, he is an entrepreneur, lawyer, philanthropist, author, politician, and all-around smart guy. As an ambitious, hard-working, A-type overachiever, he is a proponent of ‘human centered capitalism’. Recently he launched Humanity Forward. Humanity Forward is a non-profit essentially looking toward advancing ideas he promoted in his surprisingly successful bid for a shot at the US presidency. The first effort of this new organization will be the ‘Dividend Data Project.’