Why This Guy Sold His Digital Soul for $500

ABC News
Why This Guy Sold His Digital Soul for $500
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Why This Guy Sold His Digital Soul for $500 (ABC News)

Could you put a price on your digital soul?

For a Dutch student who sold a bundle of his personal information to the highest bidder, including emails, his browser history and personal calendar, the price tag read €350 (about $485).

Shawn Buckles told ABCNews.com he set up an auction website for his data earlier this month as a "leap of faith" to see if he could find a way to take back "control" over his online existence.

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"I don't own my data," Buckles said. "Throughout the process I came to understand that I cannot freely trade my own data. When I use a platform to create digital records, in most cases I've accepted user agreements that transfer my intellectual property rights to the company that collects and stores my creation."

With more than 40 potential buyers, including a sociologist, a hacker group and multiple research companies, according to Buckles, the winning bid ultimately went to The Next Web, a technology news company.

Buckles said they will use his information to highlight online privacy issues at an upcoming conference.

"When I use a platform to create digital records, in most cases I've accepted user agreements that transfer my intellectual property rights to the company that collects and stores my creation. In real life this would mean that when I use an oven to bake bread, the oven will own the bread," Buckles said.

He said he has no regrets about his auction and hopes it will help spark a discussion about online privacy.

"Instead of giving ourselves credit for the value we add to the Internet, we think of the Internet as some sort of a super-brain that creates value all by itself," Buckles said. "A computer cannot yet function or learn without the input or value of people. We need to give ourselves credit for this."

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