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Aileen Nielsen, Measuring Lay Reactions to Personal Data Markets (AIES '21: Proceedings of the AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society, 2021).

Abstract: The recording, aggregation, and exchange of personal data is necessary to the development of socially-relevant machine learning applications. However, anecdotal and survey evidence show that ordinary people feel discontent and even anger regarding data collection practices that are currently typical and legal. This suggests that personal data markets in their current form do not adhere to the norms applied by ordinary people. The present study experimentally probes whether market transactions in a typical online scenario are accepted when evaluated by lay people. The results show that a high percentage of study participants refused to participate in a data pricing exercise, even in a commercial context where market rules would typically be expected to apply. For those participants who did price the data, the median price was an order of magnitude higher than the market price. These results call into question the notice and consent market paradigm that is used by technology firms and government regulators when evaluating data flows. The results also point to a conceptual mismatch between cultural and legal expectations regarding the use of personal data.