The Social Dilemma of Big Data: Donating Personal Data to Promote Social Welfare

74 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2021 Last revised: 20 Oct 2021

See all articles by Kirsten Hillebrand

Kirsten Hillebrand

Bern University of Applied Sciences - Institute Sustainable Business

Lars Hornuf

Technische Universität Dresden; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: February 27, 2021

Abstract

When using digital devices and services, individuals provide their personal data to organizations in exchange for gains in various domains of life. Organizations use these data to run technologies such as smart assistants, augmented reality, and robotics. Most often, these organizations seek to make a profit. Individuals can, however, also provide personal data to public databases that enable nonprofit organizations to promote social welfare if sufficient data are contributed. Regulators have therefore called for efficient ways to help the public collectively benefit from its own data. By implementing an online experiment among 1,696 US citizens, we find that individuals would donate their data even when at risk of getting leaked. The willingness to provide personal data depends on the risk level of a data leak but not on a realistic impact of the data on social welfare. Individuals are less willing to donate their data to the private industry than to academia or the government. Finally, individuals are not sensitive to whether the data are processed by a human-supervised or a self-learning smart assistant.

Keywords: data philanthropy, sustainable development, decision-making, privacy, environmental protection, public health

JEL Classification: C710, H410, I180, O350, Q560

Suggested Citation

Hillebrand, Kirsten and Hornuf, Lars, The Social Dilemma of Big Data: Donating Personal Data to Promote Social Welfare (February 27, 2021). Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper No. 21-08, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3801476 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3801476

Kirsten Hillebrand

Bern University of Applied Sciences - Institute Sustainable Business ( email )

Brückenstrasse 73
Bern

Lars Hornuf (Contact Author)

Technische Universität Dresden ( email )

Dresden, 01307
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.hornuf.com

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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