What year were you born? What’s your phone number? And what’s your best friend’s name? – Would you answer personal questions like these in exchange for a free ice cream on a hot summer day? On Zurich’s largest square, we have put to the test how much personal information passersby are ready to disclose to get a free ice cream. The result is as funny as it is insightful:
The vast majority of the protagonists was clearly confused by the personal questions, and almost no one answered them straight off. At the same time, however, countless Internet users readily disclose the same personal information to tech companies in order to use their online services.
Yet, as the famous saying goes, if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product. This is to say that tech companies use the collected data to create detailed user profiles and generate revenue by selling targeted ads – a lucrative business because user data is much more valuable than it seems to the casual eye. Therefore, data protection and privacy comes at a price that’s worth paying for.