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Payment with Data – The Economic Value of Users’ Personal Data

Contact: Ali Sunyaev, Tobias Dehling, Manuel Schmidt-Kraepelin

Project Status: completed


In the age of information, online activities leave trails of personal data that expose our interests, traits, beliefs, and intentions. This data is frequently gathered by commercial entities. Although many consumers are aware of this problem, they often do not know what personal data is gathered, who has access to their data, how their data is used, and for what prices their data is sold. Personal data is of great economic value for a number of reasons. Personal data can, for example, be used for predicting purchasing behavior to reduce supply chain overhead or to influence consumers’ purchasing behavior through behavioral targeting. During the last decades, the high economic value of personal data spurred ever increasing growth of markets for trading personal data. On this markets, organizations purchase sets of personal data from data aggregators and merchants to subsequently use them for their own purposes. In short, personal data has become a commodity. At the University of Kassel we conduct the research project ‘Payment with Data – The Economic Value of Users’ Personal Data’ for the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV). The goal of the research project is to examine the economic value of consumer data and to investigate how organizations use this data for economic value creation. On the one hand, this will help to make the general public familiar with what is going on in the prevalent personal data markets by making consumers aware of data use and trading processes normally not visible to them. On the other hand, the study results will serve as empirical foundation to inform public debate on strengthening consumer rights in our digital world.

Involved Persons
Ali Sunyaev, Tobias Dehling, Manuel Schmidt-Kraepelin


Funding: BMJV

Research Group

Critical Information Infrastructures

Publications Belonging to the Project
 - inproceedings
 - book
 - incollection
 - booklet
 - proceedings
 - phdthesis
 - techreport
 - deliverable
 - manual
 - misc
 - unpublished