Have you ever considered data as currency?

What if you could pay with your personal data for goods – as if it was some sort of currency? Sounds attractive… or scary?

The amount of personal data we own grows rapidly every minute: messages and emails in our mailboxes, pictures on our smartphones, posts in social networks, and so on… Have you ever tried to estimate the actual amount of it? And how much could all this data cost? Well, probably, before answering that question, you have to first ask yourself another one: Would you be willing to give away your data in exchange for some goods? That’s what we tried to figure out – and we’ve opened a shop in London for that.

The store that accepted no money

We at Kaspersky Lab decided to find out the answers to those questions – not just for us, but for other people as well. That’s why we opened the Data Dollar Store – the first and only pop-up shop where one could pay for goods with their data and only data. We’ve called that currency “Data Dollars”. For 2 days, September the 6th and the 7th, we were open in London’s bustling creative hub in Shoreditch to sell exclusive t-shirts, mugs and prints specially designed by famous London street artist Ben Eine.

A hard decision

Wouldn’t you want to get some designer swag without giving away any real money for it?! Sure! That’s what made some customers at the store pretty excited at first. But would you change your mind if you found out that you would have to give away several personal WhatsApp conversations or pictures that would be displayed on a screen to everybody passing by the store for two days? Have some doubts already? However, that’s some exclusive swag for no real money… That was a tough choice not everyone could make easily.

What the real price is

Actually, that’s the choice we all are making quite frequently, but we just don’t notice that. We subscribe to services that collect our data, process it and sell it, giving us something like a social network platform or movies on demand in exchange. Most of the time we don’t even read those terms of agreement and jump right into sharing our private data with everyone. With the Data Dollar Store we just wanted to raise awareness of it by making it… more vivid.

The most important thing to understand is: your data costs as much as you value it. So give it a high enough price and protect it properly – so that privacy and personal information can still exist in the future.