The Atlantic has a brief but excellent analysis of the economic value of an internet user’s data; see here. This is important – a lot of business models, and hence valuations of businesses, are dependent on the successful exploitation of data gathered about internet users. However, the article also points out a possible idiosyncrasy of human nature that may encourage businesses to erode customer privacy. Put simply, customers may put less value on protecting their personal information if they think businesses will obtain it anyway. Time will tell if commercial drivers will necessarily result in more and more private information being revealed about all of us. If it does, the companies gathering and managing that data might think themselves better off, but that is not assured – where customers do not act to protect themselves, governments have a habit of intervening.

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