Corporations and Dataveillance – authority, consumer compensation, limits.


Corporations and Dataveillance – authority, consumer compensation, limits.

Why do we give corporations so much authority? Is it convenience? Ignorance? Something else?

On data, as Turow puts it in the interview by Gross (2017), the authority that corporations get is due to convenience on the end of customers. Turow offers a great example where a hotel offers convenient check-in via a mobile app in such a way that the customer does not have to pass by the front-desk and gets the ability to choose the room too. However, this check-in convenience comes at a cost of extreme monitoring from the hotel with access to very wide-ranging data on the customer.

This convenience is noticeable in most other contexts of retail operations especially because it stems from the culture of buying conveniently online and getting deliveries to the door-step. An example is Domino’s Pizza which has admitted to getting a unified view of its customers from a variety of data sources (Marr, 2016). The convenience that customer get in return is being able to order via any device in the household including doing so via voice commands and also getting customized offers.

However, I believe ignorance also plays a part in the authority that corporations possess. This is going by Turow’s point that most customers do not read terms and conditions of service they get and hence give away their data unknowingly.

Should consumers be compensated when companies buy and sell their data? If so, how?

            Yes. Customers should be compensated on the premise that data is of significant value to whoever gets to buy it. Ideally, there should be a fair exchange of value between the company and the customer regarding data exchange. As such, if a company sell data, as in any other business supply chain process, it should take a small margin of the profits and pass the rest to the initial owner of the good (data) who is their customer. In that case, if for instance the company sells a customer’s data for $10, then the customer should get at least $7 from that sale.

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            In support of Au-Yeung (2019) coverage of the ‘Data Dividends’ idea by the California governor, I would propose state laws that treat data as a resource from the citizens of a particular location just as we currently treat oil and gas as natural resources from particular regions. This way, companies for instance operating in California and gaining access to data around it would compensate the residents via the idea of data dividends, that is, a share of the profits that they make from selling or buying such data.

Are there some kinds of data companies should not collect? What?

            Yes. Based on the interview by by Gross (2017), I believe companies should not collect data that directly links to the individual shopper including biometric data. In addition, data should be restricted to the specific use case. This would mean that a clothing store cannot collect data on a customer’s movement outside the store or interactions with other stores. Further, physiological data should only be restricted to medical uses as opposed to measuring reactions to shopping experiences.


Gross, T., 2017. NPR Choice Page. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 October 2020].

Marr, B., 2016. Big Data-Driven Decision-Making At Domino’s Pizza. [online] Forbes. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 October 2020].

Au-Yeung, A., 2019. California Wants To Copy Alaska And Pay People A ‘Data Dividend.’ Is It Realistic?. [online] Forbes. Available at: <–is-it-realistic/#72751856222c> [Accessed 26 October 2020].

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