Kaspersky Lab’s ‘Data Dollar Store’ in London highlights value of personal data

A pop-up shop from the security experts at Kaspersky Lab allowed shoppers to exchange personal data as currency for goods, prompting visitors to assess the value of their own privacy.

“Every day, without realizing it, we pay for things with our data,” the official website for London’s Data Dollar Store reads. It notes that from emails to Facebook likes, users are already paying for services with their data.

The Data Dollar Store took it a step further, making official transactions out of items taken from a user’s personal phone. Created in partnership with street artist Ben Eine, the store accepted what was dubbed a new global currency — “data dollars” — to purchase exclusive t-shirts, mugs and screen prints created by Eine.

Engadget paid a visit to Kaspersky’s store, where patrons could purchase a mug in exchange for three photos, or screenshots of WhatsApp SMS and email conversations. The t-shirt was offered in exchange for the last three photos taken on the device, while an original print required customers to hand over their phone and allow a staff member to select five photos or take three screenshots of their choosing.

“This is stuff we give away freely all the time,” Eine told reporter Nick Summers. But when you’re actually asked to exchange this private information and walk away with something that does have monetary value, people are like, ‘Whoa! What is actually on my telephone? What are the messages that I’ve sent?’ It’s a little bit scary.”

The store was located at London’s Old Street Station, but was only open for two days, on Sept. 6 and 7.

Kaspersky says it hopes the stunt helps to change people’s minds about how much their personal data is worth.