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What Is Your Personal Data Worth?

While the legalities of collecting user’s personal data remain a tricky subject, the fact remains that companies are doing it every day and it tends to be hard to avoid. In fact, this is what goes on in the background any time you agree to terms and conditions, use an app, sign up to a newsletter, and even view a website.

Clearly, your personal data is an in-demand commodity. But why are the companies doing this and where is the payoff? We’ll shed some light on the matter below.

What constitutes personal data?

The term ‘personal data’ goes beyond your name, birth date, and address. It also encompasses things like banking and health information, not to mention your browsing history and shopping tendencies, all of which falls under its umbrella. Most companies are after it because it allows them to custom-tailor their marketing campaigns and optimize their ads to make them more targeted and thus make more money.

What are some of the offenders?

Even if you’re careful about what kind of websites you visit and don’t click on ads too often, you’re not entirely in the clear. Do you use popular websites like Facebook or Instagram? Do you order your food via Uber? Then you should know that your location is being monitored, your purchases are being tracked, and your browsing history is being analyzed. Worse yet, some of these companies are selling your personal data to third parties for financial gain.

Can you put a price on your personal data?

To put a number on it, two decades ago, your personal data was not worth nearly as much as it is today. Taking Google as an example, in 2001, each user generated less than $2 of ad revenue on an annual basis for them. But now, the numbers jumped to roughly $30 per user. Perhaps the most staggering one of all is the realization that companies are willing to spend millions of dollars to acquire your personal data, either to sell it to a third party or monetize it on their own.

The value of your personal data

The value of your personal data is increasing year by year.

What can you do to protect yourself?

If your personal privacy is a concern to you, there are ways to remove your personal data from the internet. The resource referenced mostly covers the most important steps you need to take to make your personal data harder to find. However, keep in mind that completely erasing your digital footprint may not be possible. To name an example, once the data is out, the one who snatched it could make copies of it and back them up to their personal cloud or hard drive, both of which are out of reach for conventional means to remove outside of law enforcement.

Everything considered, it’s best to take a preventative approach and not give away much of your personal data in the first place. As a general rule of thumb, the less you give away, the better, even if it means uninstalling certain apps or unsubscribing from certain websites.


Your personal data can fetch a hefty price on the market and it attracts the interest of advertisers, data brokers, and criminals alike. Knowing this, it’s on you to take the steps necessary to keep it safe.

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