Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and co ain’t free

We’ve grown accustomed to giving away our most valuable asset – our data – and we are paying for it heavily

In today’s Information Age, data is the new gold. Huge corporate empires are built on data, groundbreaking court cases make rulings on data and governments around the world find themselves playing keep-up – trying to amass databases of their own, while regulating the private data giants.

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If it is so clear that data is the single most important commodity of the present, it is quite bizarre that we give our data away without giving the matter a second thought. We could forgive this norm if we were simply giving our information away for free, by choice. Unfortunately, the reality is more disturbing. Not only are we giving our ‘gold’ away for free, we actually end up paying heavily for the corporate use of our data.

How do the internet giants make money off our data?

The data corporations go to great lengths to calm any worries regarding their use of our data.  Check any of their Privacy Policies, and you will see repeated assurances that they don’t sell your data to third-parties. This is only partly true.

Corporations such as Google and Facebook don’t sell your data directly to other companies, instead charging companies when they use your data to develop marketing campaigns for them. Your raw data is not passed on to third-parties, but they still use your data to make, almost a hundred billion dollar in advertising revenue.

Who do you think ends up paying for this? Businesses purchasing marketing services from Google and the other Data corporations are the direct buyers, but such costs are eventually passed on to the end customer in ‘overhead’ fees. The price of such necessary marketing processes are calculated into the final prices for any service or product we end up buying.

Let’s recap that for a second. You give your data away for free, to corporations who use that data to make money off of the same companies that end up charging you inflated prices – inflated due to the expensive use of your data. Absurd, right?

Essentially, hidden within every purchase you make, is a fee you pay for large corporations to collect your personal information.

Democratizing Data – the necessary next step

This small absurd situation is anything but insignificant. It lies at the base of all of our purchases and transactions. It is an underlying inefficiency (dare I say, exploitation) that drives hundreds of billions of dollars of profits in the data industry.

However, things need not remain this way. It is clear that the market needs to evolve to allow users greater control of their personal information. Such control needs to go beyond simply allowing users to choose whether google can share your photos or phone location. We need to develop a platform that at a minimum prevents users from having to bankroll the data industry out of their pockets, if not even allow people worldwide to see some of the value from their data as well.

A solution in the form of blockchain

The first idea that comes to mind is to find a way to utilize the blockchain. This exciting technological development provides a way to develop an information-sharing network that is fully decentralized. In a blockchain network, no single entity can claim a monopoly on information. Perhaps, this will be the real contribution that blockchain technology will bring the world – the ability to democratize the gains from data in the Information Age.


The author, Jaron Seijffers, is the CMO at; the first reverse bidding marketplace where service providers find consumers using blockchain technology. Using the MaxData platform, consumers anonymously provide information regarding the services they are looking for, allowing service providers to see exactly what offers consumers will be interested in. Service providers can then craft a tailor-made offer to send consumers, while saving time and money on their acquisition efforts. These savings allow service providers to drastically lower consumers’ cost of living by reducing prices for services (such as insurance, communication, utilities or financial services). MaxData’s revolutionary platform effectively saves businesses and consumers billions of dollars a year.


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