Median average responses varied: On the lower end, a consumer’s email address, shopping history, full name, mailing address and employment history all came in at $50 a piece, while the most sensitive information — biometric data, banking information and Social Security number — garnered the highest average of $1,000.
Experts say consumers don’t typically think of their data in terms of dollar amounts: When submitting an email address for inclusion in a retailer’s loyalty program, for example, customers don’t consciously acknowledge how a retailer can then profit off that piece of information or the possible security ramifications if the email address is obtained by a third party through a data breach. And experts say that because companies aren’t exactly boasting about the value they get from oftentimes cheap data, it makes it difficult to know how much data is worth.
“There’s no transparency to the data exchange at all,” said Elizabeth Gettelman Galicia, vice president of policy at Common Sense Media, an advocacy group that’s behind a few tech equity plans in California. “There isn’t any sort of table people can go to or some sort of conversion from kilometers to meters to show what happens with the data point. It’s tough to know where to start.”
Natasha Duarte, privacy and security policy analyst at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said most data brokers are paying far less for this information than respondents believe it’s worth — even though the data garners more value as it’s distributed to advertisers, marketers and a vast number of other players to personalize services and learn more about the consumers they’re targeting.
For instance, on the dark web — where consumer data usually lands after a hack — a Social Security number can be sold on average for $1, while driver’s license information and loyalty program data are sold for $20 on average, according to research earlier this year by credit reporting agency Experian PLC. Passport information is one of the most lucrative items on the dark web, with prices ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, per Experian.