The market for our digital data can seem like a lopsided bargain.
We all create valuable data points with every tap on a screen or keystroke — clicks, searches, likes, posts, purchases and more. We hand it over willingly for free services. But the biggest economic windfall goes to the tech giants like Google and Facebook. Their corporate wealth is built on harvesting and commercializing the information supplied by the online multitudes.
“Imagine if General Motors did not pay for its steel, rubber or glass — its inputs,” said Robert J. Shapiro, an economist who recently did an analysis of the value of data. “That’s what it’s like for the big internet companies. It’s a sweet deal.”