Paying for Privacy?

Google’s recent changes to their privacy policy have had me thinking a lot about privacy lately. One of the thoughts that has crossed my mind is that, while I consider privacy to be a fundamental right, in the absence of any aggressive government legislation addressing this issue I would be willing to “pay for privacy.” For example, if there were the option to pay a few dollars a month so that Gmail wouldn’t mine the content of my emails and serve me adds it thinks I would like, I would absolutely do it. The sad thing is, in many instances we aren’t given the option to pay for our privacy. Not only are there very limited privacy protections in place (though the EU seems to be doing a bit better than the United States), but we can’t even pay to protect our information!

A report published last month by the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) addressed this very issue. The report, titled Study on monetizing privacy: An economic model for pricing personal information, provides results of a study that was designed to examine the tradeoffs between personalization of products and user privacy, and to explore user receptivity to “pay for privacy” models. In the largest lab study to date of privacy economics, 443 participants were recruited to participate in the experiment. They found that when given the choice between two different service providers to buy tickets online, people tended to choose the more privacy invasive provider if their prices were lower. However, some people did opt to “pay a premium for privacy.” The study authors conclude that Users should be provided with options that allow them to disclose less personal data. Since such differentiation might lead to higher service prices, the EU regulatory framework should be sufficiently flexible to allow differentiation between service providers, enabling comparison of prices and requiring market players to offer privacy-friendly services.  

What do you think? Should paying for privacy be an option? Is privacy a fundamental right, and therefore something we shouldn’t have to pay for?  Should the EU regulatory framework be adapted, as ENISA suggests, to allow for differentiation between service providers?

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!