People FUEL the digital economy with vast streams of data but have virtually no power to demand fair compensation for it. The companies collecting all that data exert full control over the market, raking in billions of dollars without concern for the value of privacy. We need a new market for pricing data, one that can bring balance to this uneven marketplace and establish an economic value for data privacy. We’ve seen initial discussions on this idea already, with several policymakers and researchers looking for models that would compensate people who share personal data. One such idea, proposed by California Governor Gavin Newsom, would redistribute some of the profits that tech companies reap from user data. Another, from Microsoft’s Jaron Lanier and Glen Weyl, considers the much-needed concept of “data dignity,” which foresees a labor union-like institution that negotiates the terms for data sharing on behalf of end-users. These approaches point toward the much-needed correction of the digital economy’s power imbalances. They provide valuable provocations, but what we ultimately need is a more granular market design that specifies how data value is assessed, secured and traded.
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