Datareum is a decentralized marketplace that will enable individuals to monetize their personal data, selling it directly to market researchers, academic researchers, and other interested parties. Built on the Ethereum public blockchain, Datareum’s platform will facilitate this peer-to-peer transaction of sensitive personal information securely, without the risk of hacking. Using online surveys as a starting point for building the marketplace, Datareum will employ incentive mechanisms that, over the long-term, will ensure the
availability of superior quality custom data, providing an indispensable tool for researchers of all kinds.
Their personal online data is an economic asset generated by a combination of their basic identity (includes age, location, gender), their behavior (includes interests, attitudes, and opinions), and their purchases. They personally generate this information yet they do not seem to own it, and they certainly do not profit from it directly. The data broker industry, as they have seen, is a rapidly growing sector that aggregates their data, largely without their knowledge, reselling it for massive profit.
The potential risks of not being in control of their own data extend well beyond hacking. They also face the possibility of the data custodians purposely using their information in ways that are not beneficial to us. For example, insurance companies use data aggregations to build pricing models for new customers based on perceived willingness of similar customers to pay. Online vendors similarly profile customers based on, for example, whether they are located in the suburbs or the city-center, adjusting displayed prices accordingly. Algorithms using data collected on customers to produce “differential pricing” is now an established but decidedly secretive industry practice.
What if they could own and sell or give away their data directly? In a world where people have full control of their data, a fair and transparent data marketplace can be created. In such an open marketplace, data providers are incentivized to make available – even expressly produce – higher quality data in larger quantities. This has positive implications for research of all kinds. Data purchasers meanwhile gain access to higher quality data at lower cost due to the elimination of intermediaries. Additionally, since data in such a marketplace is by definition given voluntarily, researchers are assured access to ethically sourced data. Both the quality and quantity of data in such a marketplace, therefore, represents a vast improvement over the status quo.
VASTLY IMPROVED SECURITY
Blockchain additionally eliminates the security cost of warehousing data by storing it not in a centralized location, but rather in a distributed network. Data stored in such a away becomes practically immune to attack by raising the cost of attack to an amount much higher than the value of the information potentially gained.