Case Studies

Most Brits would sell data

by Mark Rowe

Many UK citizens say that they feel prepared to sell various aspects of their digital identity if they were financially compensated. That is according to research of over 2,100 UK consumers for an cloud-based identity product company.

The survey suggests that almost two-thirds would be willing to sell their purchase history (63pc), location data (62pc), browsing history (59pc) and details of their online media consumption (59pc). Over half would also be happy to share their social media activity, including what they post on social platforms (56pc) and who they follow or engage with (56pc).

The results vary by age. Generation Z (55pc) and millennials (49pc) are most willing to sell their data for a price, with this figure dropping significantly when looking at older generations. Only 16pc of those aged between 65 and 75 would be happy to part with any type of their data.

Ben King, Chief Security Officer EMEA at Okta said: “Our research found that many Brits do not understand what makes up their online identity. Most are aware that things like usernames, online profiles and browsing history are readily available, but do not consider some less obvious aspects, such as listening history, details of devices connected to the internet and work done online. All of these things create personal data.

“Personally, it doesn’t bother me too much if a company is tracking what I’ve listened to on Spotify. But particularly in Europe, privacy issues are increasingly prevalent and there are multi-million fines coming out for businesses breaching compliance.”

What the accept

Of those willing to sell, most Brits would accept under £100, dependent on the type of data. In fact, the research shows that consumers would generally accept between £10 and £50 for their location data (31pc), browsing history (30pc) and purchase history (29pc).

“Many are willing to part with their valuable personal data for a surprisingly low amount. For instance, 10pc would be willing to give away their password data for under £30,” added King.

“The reality is that companies are getting a huge amount of personal data for free at the moment. But with public awareness on the increase, there’s a risk of alienating those who remain cautious about how their data is handled, so offering a financial incentive could potentially offer a solution to this. The best move for companies collecting personal data is to be brutally honest in saying ‘yes, we use your data and this is what we do with it’.”

There are some areas where people draw the line at data for sale. Passwords (69pc), offline conversations (67pc), biometric data (67pc) and personally identifiable information (61pc) are the top areas of digital identity that Brits would not want to sell at any price. Other areas of concern include email and messaging history (61pc) and dating app activity (56pc).

“Most importantly, continuing to raise awareness of data tracking and how commonplace it is in our daily lives will eventually help people realise that it might not be as big a deal as they think. At the end of the day, if someone receives a targeted ad that shows them exactly what they need, they’re getting convenience. And for most, that’s a benefit,” said King.

“Where we need to pay attention is to the vulnerable parts of the population who might be less aware and more easily led. The question is, where does the responsibility lie? Both the government and corporates have a role to play here, but individuals of a working age should be responsible for doing their own research and educating themselves too.”


The survey was commissioned by Okta and carried out by Juniper Research, online, covering Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. The overall sample size was 12,239, including 2,218 respondents in the UK.

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