Long Chen, Yadong Huang, Shumiao Ouyang, Wei Xiong, 28 June 2021

Online consumers tend to say they care about privacy but at same time choose to share their personal data either for free or for little reward. This column examines this ‘data privacy paradox’ using data from a survey of Alipay users. It finds no relationship between users’ self-stated privacy concerns and the number of third-party mini-programs on the site they agree to share their data with, and argues that this may be explained by users with stronger privacy concerns tending to benefit more from using these mini-programs. Rather than having innate data privacy concerns, consumers appear to develop concerns as a by-product of the process of using digital applications.

Dirk Bergemann, Alessandro Bonatti, Tan Gan, 26 August 2020

The rise of large digital platforms — from Facebook, Google, and Amazon in the US to JD, Tencent, and Alibaba in China — has led to the unprecedented collection and commercial use of individual data. This column argues that a central, underappreciated feature of those data is their social aspect: data captured from an individual user describe not only that individual, but other users with similar characteristics or behaviours. The policy implications of this insight include the need for privacy regulations focused less on personalised prices, and more on group-based price discrimination.

Jian Jia, Ginger Jin, Liad Wagman, 07 January 2019

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation was a landmark piece of legislation stipulating how businesses approach consumers’ privacy with regards to data. Using EU and US data, this column explores how the legislation impacted technology venture investment. The implementation of GDPR had an immediate, pronounced, and negative effect on investment. However, these results do not necessarily constitute a welfare loss, and the long-term effects of GDPR remain to be seen. 

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