Selling your data for profit? Here are arguments for and against

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you could get paid for information about your likes, dislikes and other data, would you sell it? Our privacy and how our personal data are being used have become a huge issue since the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Now one company says it wants to give control of your data back to you. 7 On Your Side talked to one user and one of the people behind the company.

Brit Morgan follows the news with interest. How the data of millions of people has been sold really bothered her.

"It's my information. It's my data. Why wouldn't it bother me?" said the San Franciscan.

That's why she's turned to Datum, a company that acts as a broker to other companies and allows you to opt in or out of what data you're willing to sell.

RELATED: How a VPN might keep your digital lives private and secure

"I love the vision and being in control of my own data," said Morgan .

Joe Johnston works for Datum out of San Francisco.

He says major companies like Facebook and Google make about $2,000 from the data it acquires for free from each user.

So what we're doing is trying to take data that other companies are making this much money off of and then make that so that you're earning that directly," Johnston said.

Joe Ridout of San Francisco-based Consumer Action calls that goal laudable, but he's skeptical.

RELATED: Facebook tracks you, even while logged off

"The real question is whether this app will achieve that in a meaningful way and I think that's uncertain at this point."

Ridout says Datum's model doesn't solve what he sees as a bigger issue.

"The problem is you're not taking back any data," said Ridout. "Google, Facebook Twitter have all kinds of data on you."

The opportunities right now to make money using Datum is quite limited because it is still in the beta stage.

Datum says it currently has about 95,000 users like Morgan who can opt in to receive marketing emails and sell their location data.

Users right now make about $15 a month.

But as the program expands, the company predicts some users could make up to $2,000 annually selling their health information to insurance companies.

"This is done in a secure and anonymous way. Then when the companies pay, that payment goes directly to the end users," Datum's Johnston explained.

VIDEO: Michael Finney searches his information in data broker site

Users receive payments in the form of a cryptocurrency called Dat.

That bothers Ridout of Consumer Action.

"You're not paid in real money. You're being paid in a homemade cryptocurrency that may prove worthless in a year or less," he said.

Morgan, who works in the cryptocurrency industry, disagrees.

"It's a great way to make some extra money and it's also nice to own data," she said.

The Datum app is available through the web or Google play. An app for IOS users should be available soon.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Produced by Randall Yip
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.