Privacy isn't a right, it's a commodity

We’ve already decided that privacy is not a right—and we affirm that every day that we use Facebook and Google and all the other services for which we’ve clicked “agree.” We can opt out entirely, which is increasingly only possible if we want to wrap our heads in tin foil and live in a cave. Or we can throw up our hands and take what we’re given, which is the most popular choice.

But a better option might be to simply raise our prices. We can limit how our personal information is gathered and utilized, and in doing so we can demand that it be purchased at higher rates than just access to Instagram. It may not mean cold hard cash (at least not at first), but we can certainly expect more premium services, more discreet advertising, or even just better control over who gets our data and for what purposes.

After all, once we start controlling what we share with whom, we can decide that certain kinds of information are worth more to which retailers. Want to know what sort of food I regularly order? I might decide to share that with FreshDirect (a grocery delivery service) and Seamless (a restaurant delivery service), but not with Good Eggs or GrubHub (their competitors). Once those services recognize that I’ve got a commodity they want—namely data that allows them to upsell, cross-market, and target-promote—and that I’m willing to withhold that information from one provider in favor of another, it changes the game substantially. In exchange for my precious data, companies might offer me meaningful dollar-value promotions, discounts, and special offers.