I spend hours every day surfing the internet. Meanwhile, companies like Facebook and Google have been using my online information (the websites I visit, the friends I have, the videos I watch) for their own benefit.
In 2012, advertising revenue in the United States was around $30 billion. That same year, I made exactly $0 from my own data. But what if I tracked everything myself? Could I at least make a couple bucks back?
I started looking at the terms of service for the websites I often use. In their privacy policies, I have found sentences like this: "You grant a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)." I've basically agreed to give away a lifelong, international, sub-licensable right to use my personal data.
Somebody told me that we live in the data age, that the silicon age is already over. "In this new economy," they said, "data is the oil."
Well, this is me trying to do something about it.
Since February, I have been recording all of my online activity (the HTML pages I have visited, the position of the mouse pointer, a screenshot of what I was looking at, a webcam image of me looking at my computer, my GPS location and a log of the apps that I was using). Check out myprivacy.info to see some of the visualizations I've made.
The data bundle contains:
WebPages (a folder with downloaded text of each visited web page)
websiteViewsLog.csv (a list of visited web pages with references to downloaded text files)
ScreenCaptures (a folder with screen shots)
screenCaptures.csv (a list of screenshot with timestamp)
WebcamPhotos (a folder with webcam photos taken every 30 seconds)
webcamPhotos.csv (a list of photos with timestamp)
applicationLog.csv (open and close time of used applications)
applicationUsage.csv (summary of application log)
browserTabs.csv (open and close time and content of opened tabs in Chrome)
browserWindows.csv (open and close time of Chrome sessions)
geolocation.csv (my latitude and longitude)
mouseLog.csv (mouse coordinates in pixels)
websiteOfTheDay.csv (most popular websites)
wordsOfTheDay.csv (most common searches)
The tools suite contains:
data cleansing routines
conversion and parsing utilities
basic statistical tools
I'm selling this data for $2 a day. If more people do the same, I'm thinking marketers could just pay us directly for our data. It might sound crazy, but so is giving all our data away for free.
Risks and challenges
I will try my best to remain transparent. In developing the Chrome extension and the iPhone app I will re-iterate to deliver simple to use and intuitive products.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)