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Germans would pay more for their privacy than Americans, study finds

Image credit: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz | Dreamstime

A study investigating how people in various countries value their private information has found that Facebook users from Germany would charge the social media platform the most for sharing their personal data.

The study, by US-based think-tank the Technology Policy Institute (TPI), is the first to attempt to quantify the value of online privacy and data. And for the study, it assessed how much privacy is worth in six countries by looking at the habits of people in the US, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia and Argentina.

It addresses the growing concern about how companies, from platforms such as Facebook to retailers, have been collecting and monetising personal data. Due to this, US regulators have imposed hefty fines on Facebook Inc and Alphabet-owned Google’s YouTube unit for privacy violations.

“Differences in how much people value their privacy of different data types across countries suggests that people in some places may prefer weaker rules while people in other places might prefer stronger rules,” said Scott Wallsten, president and senior fellow at TPI. “Quantifying the value of privacy is necessary for conducting any analysis of proposed privacy policies.”

According to the study, users in Germany said they would want to be paid more, around $8 (£6.20) per month, for letting technology platforms share their personal data with third parties, while US users would only seek $3.50 (£2.70).

The study also found that people across all six countries investigated place the highest value on financial information; such as bank balance, and biometric information; such as fingerprint data in particular, and consider location data to be the least valuable.

A technology platform, on average, across all people the study assessed, would have to pay consumers a monthly $8.44 (£6.53) to share their bank balance information, $7.56 (£5.84) to share fingerprint information, $6.05 (£4.68) to read an individual’s texts and $5.80 (£4.48) to share information on cash withdrawals.

By contrast, however, people surveyed across all six countries said they wanted to be paid only $1.82 (£1.41) per month to share location data and nothing to be sent advertisements via text messages.

The study found Latin American consumers have a preference for seeing advertisements on their smartphone, in contrast to US residents and Germans.

As of late, US lawmakers are working on federal privacy legislation in relation to the subject matter while states such as California have put in place a new privacy law.

On Tuesday (25 February), the California attorney general, Xavier Becerra, sent a letter to four top US lawmakers urging them not to pre-empt the state’s new privacy law with watered-down federal legislation.

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