Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Personal data for sale

Web Start-Ups Offer Bargains for Users’ Data

The budgeting Web site, for example, displays discount offers from cable companies or banks to users who reveal their personal financial data, including bank and credit card information. The clothing retailerBluefly could send offers for sunglasses to consumers who disclose that they just bought a swimsuit. And location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla ask users to volunteer their location in return for rewards like discounts on Pepsi drinks or Starbucks coffee.

These early efforts are predicated on a shift in the relationship between consumer and company. Influenced by consumers’ willingness to trade data online, the sites are pushing to see how much information people will turn over."...

"New companies including WeShop, Aprizi, Blippy and Dopplr are trying to exploit the data that people seem so willing to give up. Some are even allowing shoppers to set what terms they want — free shipping, half-price discounts, only fair-trade products. They can also list what they are shopping for, like a gray cashmere sweater under $100, for instance, and let the retailers fight it out for the right to make a sale.

“The whole privacy debate has grown up around people using your data without your permission,” said Antony Lee, chief executive of WeShop. “If you want to use your data to your benefit, that’s for you to do,” Mr. Lee said."

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