Valuating Privacy
Bernardo A. Huberman, Eytan Adar, and Leslie R. Fine

In spite of the widespread concerns expressed about the importance of privacy, individuals frequently give away or sell a myriad of personal data. How and why people decide to transition their information from the private to the public sphere is poorly understood. To address this puzzle, we conducted a reverse second-price auction to identify the monetary value of private information to individuals and how that value is set. Our results demonstrate that the more undesirable the trait with respect to the group, whether perceived or actual, impacts the price demanded to reveal private information.

IEEE Security & Privacy, 3(5):22-25, September/October, 2005. PDF (374k).

Slightly longer pre-print available as PDF (51k).

Workshop on the Economics of Information Security, Cambridge, MA, June 2-3, 2005. slides (PPT)