Your browsing behavior for a big mac: economics of personal information online


Serval ID
Inproceedings: an article in a conference proceedings.
Your browsing behavior for a big mac: economics of personal information online
Title of the conference
Proceedings of the 22nd international conference on the World Wide Web (WWW'13)
Carrascal J. P., Riederer C., Erramili V., Cherubini M., De Oliveira R.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Most online service providers offer free services to users and in part, these services collect and monetize personally identifiable information (PII), primarily via targeted advertisements. Against this backdrop of economic exploitation of PII, it is vital to understand the value that users put to their own PII. Although studies have tried to discover how users value their privacy, little is known about how users value their PII while browsing, or the exploitation of their PII. Extracting valuations of PII from users is non-trivial - surveys cannot be relied on as they do not gather information of the context where PII is being released, thus reducing validity of answers. In this work, we rely on refined Experience Sampling - a data collection method that probes users to valuate their PII at the time and place where it was generated in order to minimize retrospective recall and hence increase measurement validity. For obtaining an honest valuation of PII, we use a reverse second price auction. We developed a web browser plugin and had 168 users - living in Spain - install and use this plugin for 2 weeks in order to extract valuations of PII in different contexts.
We found that users value items of their online browsing history for about ∈7 (~10USD), and they give higher valuations to their offline PII, such as age and address (about 25∈ or ~36USD). When it comes to PII shared in specific online services, users value information pertaining to financial transactions and social network interactions more than activities like search and shopping. No significant distinction was found between valuations of different quantities of PII (e.g. one vs. 10 search keywords), but deviation was found between types of PII (e.g. photos vs. keywords). Finally, the users' preferred goods for exchanging their PII included money and improvements in service, followed by getting more free services and targeted advertisements.
Privacy, Economics of Personal Information, Experience Sampling, PII
Create date
28/11/2016 14:14
Last modification date
04/03/2021 11:40
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