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How Companies Profit and Use Your Personal Data

In the age of information, data has become the modern gold rush, with companies like Experian, Equifax, and numerous others capitalising on the wealth of personal information individuals generate daily. Your online searches, social media interactions, shopping habits—everything forms a digital footprint eagerly sought after by businesses for myriad purposes, chiefly among them, profit.

The sheer scale of data generated is staggering. According to a report by Forbes, an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced daily, a number that continues to skyrocket with the increasing digitization of our lives. Within this vast trove of information lies the invaluable resource of personal data.

Companies profit from personal data in multifaceted ways. One primary avenue is targeted advertising. Every time you browse the internet, algorithms are at work, analysing your behaviour, preferences, and interests to serve up ads tailored specifically to you. This personalised advertising is not just a convenience; it’s a lucrative industry. Statista reports that digital advertising spending worldwide reached $378 billion in 2021, a figure that is projected to rise significantly in the coming years.

But it’s not just about ads. Industries like insurance heavily rely on data to assess risk and set premiums. For instance, the average value of a motor insurance lead can range from $20 to $200, depending on various factors like the lead’s quality and the potential for conversion. This value, sourced from industry analyses by Insuranks and other market reports, illustrates just how crucial personal data is in shaping the insurance sector’s operations and profitability.

The role of credit, credit bureaus and data brokers

Moreover, financial institutions utilise personal data extensively for credit scoring and lending decisions. Companies like Experian and Equifax, as major credit bureaus, compile and analyse vast amounts of consumer data to generate credit reports. These reports, containing information about an individual’s credit history, payment behaviour, and outstanding debts, play a pivotal role in determining one’s creditworthiness. In turn, this affects access to loans, mortgages, and favourable interest rates. Such data is not only valuable but can significantly impact an individual’s financial opportunities and choices.

Beyond these sectors, data brokers play a pivotal, albeit often lesser-known, role in the data ecosystem. These entities aggregate, package, and sell data to various industries. Acxiom, for instance, is a prominent player in this domain, collecting consumer data from various sources and selling it to businesses for targeted marketing and analytics purposes. These transactions, obscured from public view, highlight the intricate web of data trading underpinning many industries.

However, the utilisation of personal data isn’t limited to commercial purposes alone. Governments and public institutions also leverage data for policy-making, urban planning, and public services. Smart cities, for example, rely on data from sensors and citizen interactions to optimise traffic flow, manage resources efficiently, and enhance overall city functionality.

How is your data protected?

Concerns about data privacy, security, and ethical implications loom large. High-profile data breaches, such as those witnessed at Equifax and other major companies, underscore the vulnerability of personal data and the potential ramifications for individuals when such information falls into the wrong hands.

Efforts to address these concerns have led to regulatory interventions like the GDPR in Europe and similar data protection laws worldwide. These regulations aim to safeguard individuals’ data rights, ensuring transparency, consent, and the right to control and delete personal information.

Through the U-Earn platform we can help you take back control of your data and enable you to get a fair share of any compensation that comes as a result of data trades. Our aim is to increase the awareness of how companies profit and use your personal data across the following 5 themes;

  1. Data Exploitation Spans Industries: Personal data is extensively used across various sectors like advertising, insurance, and finance, deeply ingrained in modern life.
  2. Profit and Innovation Stem from Data: Monetizing data drives profits and fosters innovation but triggers concerns regarding privacy, consent, and fair distribution of benefits.
  3. Critical Conversation on Data Ethics: In navigating the digital world, discussions on data ethics, governance, and individual rights are increasingly vital.
  4. Balancing Data Use and Privacy: Striking a balance between leveraging data for societal progress and safeguarding individual privacy remains a continual challenge.
  5. Constant Evaluation and Regulation Needed: The evolving data-driven world requires ongoing evaluation, regulation, and ethical scrutiny to manage this delicate balance.
  • Take control of your data today with U-Earn – 

Footnotes / further reading…

  • Forbes Report on Data Generation: Forbes often publishes articles and reports on data generation and the digital landscape. You can explore their website or databases for reports on data generation statistics and trends.
  • Statista on Digital Advertising Spending: Statista is a well-known platform for statistics and market data. They regularly publish reports on digital advertising spending worldwide. A search on their website for “digital advertising spending” or related keywords should provide you with updated figures and analyses.
  • Industry Analyses on Motor Insurance Leads: Insuranks and other market reports, such as those from market research firms like Statista, IBISWorld, or specific insurance industry reports, often delve into the average value of motor insurance leads. Exploring these platforms or databases with keywords related to insurance leads or market analyses should yield relevant data.
  • Role of Credit Bureaus: Information about the role and impact of credit bureaus like Experian and Equifax in credit scoring and lending decisions can often be found in financial publications, industry reports, or specific articles discussing the credit industry. Websites like Bloomberg, Financial Times, or industry-specific publications might provide insights and statistics on this topic.
  • Data Brokers and Companies Like Acxiom: Details about data brokers and companies in the data aggregation and selling business, such as Acxiom, are often covered in articles from technology, business, or data-focused publications. Reports from research firms like Gartner or Forrester might also shed light on the practices of such entities.
  • Regulations like GDPR: Official websites of regulatory bodies like the European Commission for GDPR-related information or reputable legal and technology publications often discuss GDPR and its implications. Websites like the European Commission or legal databases can provide the official documentation and interpretations of GDPR.