We hear a lot about how valuable our personal information in the age of social networking. There are all these tools to help us calculate how much our Twitter account is "worth" and movements to get Facebook to pay for our data. But, it turns out, our personal information is just worth pennies to the largest data-collection companies.
The peek into the exciting world of data-brokerage comes from this just-released agreement between the New Jersey division of consumer affairs and the impossibly sinister-sounding analytics company Dataium over a couple of bad things they did. (pdf) Most interesting is that Dataium shadily bought personal data on 400,000 people from another, even more sinister-sounding analytics company called Acxiom, one of the largest so-called "data-brokers" in the country. The data included the name, phone number, email address, and various data about their behavior on car shopping sites. Dataium was considering using the info to help their clients better market to users.
And, according to the agreement, the 400,000 dossiers cost a measly $2,500. Your personal information is worth just $0.16. It's hard to know whether to be outraged or insulted.