People are willing to trade private data for pistachio cookies

How much do you value your private data? Many New Yorkers don’t place a particularly high value on their private data – from fingerprints to social security numbers – having proven willing to give away such details in return for a literal, edible coookie, Mashable reports.

The pun on cookies – the chunks of data websites place in user’s web browsers to gather information – is thoroughly intentional, says New Yorker Risa Puna, who gave out the (real) cookies as an art experiment entitled ‘Please Enable Cookies’.

The experiment worked – 380 New Yorkers blithely handed over private data such as phone and driver’s licence numbers and in exchange for cookies in flavors such as Pink Pistachio Peppercorns.

Private data: Exchanged for snacks

The numbers willing to swap personally identifying data for cookies varied according to the level of data requested, investigative news site Pro Publica reports.

More than half of those surveyed were willing to be photographed – and just over half (162) of the people handed over the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.

‘Digitally, cookies are what websites use to get information about users,’ Puna says via her website. ‘My installation, Please Enable Cookies, is intended to highlight the way we use information as currency (whether we know it or not) to acquire things that are simply for entertainment or amusement.’

Cookies priced in ‘points’

The cookies were priced in points, Puna says – seven points for Salted Mexican Chocolate Chunk, five points for Peanut Butter Coconut Curry, 10 points for Brown Butter Rosemary Snickerdoodle – and customers had to buy them by submitting personally identifying information, also valued in points.

Puna says that participants, at Bartertown at Brooklyn’s Dumbo Art Festival on September 28, chose, ‘what combination of information they are willing to submit in order to meet the price of the cookie(s) that they want.’

Author , We Live Security

  • Albert

    4 cookies??? Damn if at least it was for weed.

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