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Study Identifies How Much People Are Willing to Pay for Digital Privacy


"...way better than any regulation or government interfering in the market..."

How much would you pay for an app that doesn't collect or monitor your personal information? According to a recent study, the average smartphone owner is willing to pony up about $5 extra dollars for this privacy assurance.

app Photo credit: Shutterstock

The study by the University of Colorado-Boulder economists surveyed more than 1,700 people about their "willingness to pay" for five different fields of privacy. The economists said the research is one of the few studies to date giving a number as to how much people value their digital privacy.

In light of the National Security Agency leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden regarding domestic surveillance programs, the push for privacy in the digital age is growing. The university economists, Scott Savage and Donald Waldman, wrote that they decided to study privacy in the apps market because, generally, apps require consumers to "relinquish some personal information through 'privacy permissions' to obtain the app and its benefits."

The survey broke down how much consumers were willing to pay for anonymity in five fields: $2.28 to protect browser history, $4.05 for contact lists, $1.19 for personal locations, $1.75 for the phone’s ID number and $3.58 for text messages.

"Given the typical app in the marketplace has advertising, requires the consumer to reveal their location and their phone’s identification number, the benefit from consuming this app must be at least $5.06," the authors wrote in the study.

In a news release about the study earlier this month, Savage said he thinks app developers need to do a better job making it clear what information they collect and the privacy options available for app users. Some apps, the study authors acknowledged, need to collect personal information to perform necessary functions, but other apps go beyond collecting what's actually useful for the app's performance.

“If consumers know what’s going on, they can make informed choices and pick apps to fit their preferences; it’s way better than any regulation or government interfering in the market that it knows very little about,” Savage said.

Featured image via Shutterstock.

(H/T: Reddit, The Atlantic)



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