Unpacking privacy: valuation of personal data protection

Anya Skatova, Rebecca McDonald, Sinong Ma, Carsten Maple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)


Information about individual behaviour is collected regularly by organisations. This information has value to businesses, the government and third parties. It is not clear what value this personal data has to consumers themselves. Much of the modern economy is predicated on people sharing personal data, however if individuals value their privacy, they may choose to withhold this data unless the perceived benefits of sharing outweigh the perceived value of keeping the data private. One technique to assess how much individuals value their privacy is to ask them whether they might be willing to pay for an otherwise free service if paying allowed them to avoid sharing personal data. Our research extends previous work on factors affecting individuals’ decisions about whether to share personal data. We take an experimental approach and focus on whether consumers place a positive value on protecting their data by examining their willingness to share personal data in a variety of data sharing environments. Using five evaluation techniques, we systematically investigate whether members of the public value keeping their personal data private. We show that the extent to which participants value protecting their information differs by data type, suggesting there is no simple function to assign a value for individual privacy. The majority of participants displayed remarkable consistency in their rankings of the importance of different types of data through a variety of elicitation procedures, a finding consistent with the existence of stable individual privacy preferences in protecting personal data. We discuss our findings in the context of research on the value of privacy and privacy preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0284581
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 03 May 2023


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