Much of the digital economy is based on a simple trade: We fork over information about our private lives, and companies give us free services like search or a social network. It’s a so-so deal, and when you consider Mark Zuckerberg’s billions, it’s hard not to feel like Silicon Valley is getting the better end of things.
But now, a new startup promises to level the playing field—kind of. An article last week in the MIT Technology Review reports on Datacoup, a New York City-based company offering individuals $8 a month for a combination of their social media data and a feed of transactions from their debit and credit cards. Datacoup strips that information of identifying characteristics, bundles it with other people’s information, and sells it to companies who’ll mine it for marketing insights.