Your Personal Data Can Be Bought For Tiny Fractions of a Penny So Why Do We Value It So Highly?

Posted on October 30, 2016


The disparity between the value that people place on their personal information and how much it can be bought for online is shocking. In a survey from credit comparison site the company reveals how little your privacy is worth.


TotallyMoney spoke to UK consumers to find out how much they would be prepared to receive from companies interested in their personal data and the results were truly revealing. An email address was valued on average at £983 but can be bought for just 5p. So given the high value we place on such a simple piece of personal real estate, is it time for a re-evaluation of data protection?

I think many more people would like to know who has their personal info and how they acquired it given this massive disparity. Nobody wants data such as email, location, browsing history, gender or marital status in the wrong hands, whether that be marketing companies or criminals.

How Much Do You Care About Privacy?

The survey was conducted with 1,000 British people and additionally asked what people knew about privacy issues, especially on social media. All the results can be viewed by using the company’s online tool at – ironically a targeted marketing tool disguised as a revealing quiz.

If like me you don’t want to go through the quiz, the company gave out some of the survey’s results as a teaser that throws some welcome light on the subject. See the handy infographic below for some highlights. The reality of the situation is that email addresses are bought and traded like penny sweets and browsing history – valued at £934 – is available at around one tenth of a penny (£0.0014 to be precise).

We Know What You Want

All those special interest URLs that reflect our intellectual interests, hobbies, entertainments or sexual leanings are traded to companies who then try to sell us stuff. No wonder we feel so encircled by consumer culture. Of course some of those products may well be handy but when was the last time you clicked on a banner ad (or any ad) on a website?

In total, an average UK consumer puts a value of £2,031 on all their personal data, though interestingly 18-24 year olds placed a higher figure of £2,152 on it. Perhaps there is more of a sense of invasive marketing among the younger generation who have spent more of their life online. Depressingly, marketing companies pay only 45p on average for 13 pieces of personal data.

Would You Leave Facebook?

TotallyMoney comments that the most unsettling part of the survey was how much we really know about how our data is bought and sold. Although 30 million British people are registered with Facebook, only 40% realise that the site sells their data to third parties. This despite the finding that 52% would consider leaving Facebook because of concerns with personal data.

Right now it seems there is little appetite for data privacy and restricting the Terms of Service that we blithely sign up to – which outline the ways in which our data will be used (and abused). Privacy experts regularly predict a backlash on privacy and data sharing, but until we wise up to the basic facts I don’t see it happening soon. Well played to TotallyMoney for highlighting the issue.

The survey results are available in their infographic at or just scroll down…