The Data Dividend Project (DDP) is a movement focused on giving back consumers control over their personal data by charging companies to use personal data. In the current system, consumers provide their personal information to make social media accounts or do online shopping; however, the companies who receive this information are free to use it for their own business purposes. For instance, Facebook uses personal data to provide advertising services for clients and marketers, who are able to take advantage of the data to target ads towards specific consumer groups. This is the reason why you may see an ad for a certain product ‘follow’ you around the internet, because advertisers are able to target a specific demographic as opposed to a billboard that is aimed at everyone who sees it.
This sale and resale of consumer data is called data brokering, which is a $200 billion industry. As such, instead of all the profits going towards the corporate owners of the data, the DDP would take some of those profits and return them to the rightful owners, i.e. the consumers.
The DDP is the creation of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang who is focused on enforcing data property rights under laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which went into effect on January 1, 2020.
But why hasn’t this been done before? Until this year, consumers had little recourse against technology companies who were profiting off their data without consent or knowledge. However, with the passage of the CCPA, Californians now have the right to know what information is being collected about them, the right to delete that information, and the right to opt-out from technology companies collecting their data. These rights, however, are ignored and abused by technology companies because individual consumers don’t have the leverage to be able to go up against these companies.
This is where DDP comes in; by gathering a coalition of individual consumers, DDP has the ability to collectively bargain and advocate for data rights and the right to be compensated for the use of personal data. When consumers sign up, they officially designated DDP as their “authorized agent,” which allows DDP to represent them in bargaining with the tech companies. DDP will enter negotiations with tech companies on consumers’ behalf to exercise data rights and potentially extract payments.