When 25 Cents is too much
Jens Grossklags, and Alessandro Acquisti
We present an empirical study of willingness-to-pay for protecting information (we term it willingness-to-protect) and
willingness-to-accept a proposal to sell information (willingness-to-accept). We conducted the study in two parts. In the first
part we presented the study participants with two single closed-ended yes-no questions, asking them to protect themselves
against information release for a fixed amount of money, or offering them to release their information for a fixed amount of
money. In the second part we asked subjects to specify their maximum willingness-to-protect for personal data and their
minimum willingness-to-accept for the release of personal information.
Our results show a clear preference across the vast majority of participants for money in exchange for data in both the protection and release scenarios, even if the actual monetary advantage of selling or not protecting in the close-ended choice situations is very small. In all hypothetical scenarios, we find that the average willingness-to-accept is dramatically higher than the average willingness-to-protect.