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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lipton

Andrew Yang wants Big Tech to pay Americans for personal data

Data is the new oil. It is the most valuable commodity of the future and big corporations are taking it from people, without payment in return, and making billions. Data brokering is now a $200 billion industry.

Former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang wants to fix that problem by creating a Data Dividend which would not only give you control over who uses your data but money if you let companies borrow your data.

“We are completely outgunned by tech companies,” Yang said to The Verge. “We’re just presented with these terms and conditions. No one ever reads them. You just click on them and hope for the best. And unfortunately, the best has not happened.”

So, Yang has taken a step to empower people by creating the Data Dividend Project to give people control over their property (data). The following statement is on the project’s website.

“For example, technology companies can extract location data from your mobile phone and sell it to advertisers who can then turn around and post local ads to you in real time. Until recently, the data collector – in this case, the technology company – was deemed to own the data. As the owner, the technology company could sell that data and profit handsomely. Meanwhile, you generated the data but received no share of those profits. DDP plans to change that.

“Until this year, you, as the American consumer, had little recourse against technology companies who were profiting off your data without your consent or knowledge. Now, under the CCPA, Californians are endowed with a collection of unalienable data rights: the right to know what information is being collected on you, the right to delete that information, and the right to opt-out from technology companies collecting your data. These rights, however, are ignored and abused by technology companies. And unfortunately, individual consumers don’t have the leverage to be able to go up against these companies. That’s where DDP comes in.”

People can sign up to support the cause by visiting the project’s website. Once there you can input your email addresses to gauge how many companies are profiting off your data and connect a PayPal account to receive possible future data dividend payments.


The issue with data privacy is more than just companies unfairly taking information and profiting off of it. Some companies, like Facebook, have had mass amounts of their data fall into the wrong hands.

Cambridge Analytica illegally harvested millions of Facebook users’ data to help Trump win the 2016 election.

Christopher Wylie, who worked for Cambridge Analytica before becoming a whistleblower, said via the Guardian that Cambridge Analytica “exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”

The data was used to bring out the white nationalist movement and create a divisive America that ultimately helped Trump win in 2016.

The power that tech companies have is unimaginable. If you aren’t sure and you have an iPhone, follow these steps to see that Apple tracks every location you go to.

Go to settings – privacy – location services – system services – significant locations. It will show you all the places you have visited.

I don’t share every location I’ve visited with my best friends. So why would I give that information to major corporations for free?


The government has not been able to do much to stop the tech companies. Maybe it doesn’t care or maybe government representation is too out of touch with technology to come up with legislation that can protect personal data.

It is a difficult issue with no easy answer. Technology is new and also rapidly changing by the day, so passing effective legislation is hard. By the time an issue in tech has come to people’s attention and legislation is passed, technology will look vastly different. The past concern is now obsolete.

That is why Andrew Yang’s initiative is so important. The United States government will be slow to react to privacy issues in the tech industry or to enforce any tech regulations for that matter.

The government is filled with old people, who don’t fully understand technology, and aren’t incentivized to pass legislation that could diminish big corporations’ profits.

As such, America is left with a situation where corporate America is taking personal data for free, selling it, and making billions while everyday Americans are left behind.

But thanks to Andrew Yang, he is trying to fix that with the Data Dividend Project to even the playing field between the average person and the tech giants who are currently dictating the terms.

Sign up for the Data Dividend Project, share this on Twitter to let everyone know, and help Americans take back the data that is rightfully theirs.


If you are interested in diving deeper into the power of data. Read the book Mindfucked written by Christopher Wylie. The book description, via Amazon, is below. And maybe don’t buy it off Amazon if you have the ability to do so.

“For the first time, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower tells the inside story of the data mining and psychological manipulation behind the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum, connecting Facebook, WikiLeaks, Russian intelligence, and international hackers.”


About Ryan Lipton:

Ryan is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Business Journalism. He has written in the past for SB Nation's Silver and Black Pride, USA Today Sports Media Group, North Carolina Business News Wire, the Daily Tar Heel, and has worked with Ice Cube's BIG3 basketball league.


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