Shouldn’t there be a law to make internet companies pay us for all the data they collect? It’s one of those appealing-at-first ideas that is gaining traction — echoed most recently by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who called for a “data dividend” in his first State of the State address. But as Daniel Castro and Alan McQuinn write for the Sacramento Bee, the answer is no. Such a law would upset the internet ecosystem, devastating business models based on advertising and likely putting an end to many of the free online services we take for granted today. It would also produce vanishingly small cash payouts for everyday users.
Grownups should be able to decide for themselves whether to share data to access free online services. Enacting a paternalistic law to protect them is a bad idea.