Our Personal Data Is Worth a Lot. Facebook Should Pay For It.

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Robert Shapiro tells us the results of a study that analyzes the value of the personal data collected by internet companies:

In the end, we calculated that internet companies earned an average of $202 per American internet user in 2018 from personal data. We believe that’s a conservative estimate.

Let’s see. There are 275 million internet users in the United States, so that’s $55 billion total. Per year. And it’s going up every year.

Shapiro thinks we all deserve a cut of that since this personal data is, after all, ours. He suggests a complicated mechanism where the government collects the money and then cuts everyone a check. But why not just levy a tax and be done with it? That would be simpler. Put all the money in a special fund designed to . . . I dunno, fight income inequality or buy everyone computers. I’ll bet Elizabeth Warren could come up with a plan for it.

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