What is the value of your web usage data--everything you browse, search, click, view late at night, stumble upon or otherwise see on the internet--during the course of one month?
If you ask Google, they'd say between $5 and $100, depending on exactly who that user is.
The search engine giant has just unveiled a new program to track internet usage on select home networks. It's called Screenwise, and its purpose to gather information about the way that people use the internet.
To participate, interested parties must sign up with their email address on the Screenwise website. If selected, Google will reward that person with a $5 Amazon gift card and another $5 gift card for every three months they stay with the program. That's $10 for four months of tracking.
Of the small number of people that have already signed up, a few have been asked to go a step further: Google would like to install a small black box into their homes that will track 100 percent of their web usage according to Ars Technica, who got an anonymous tip about the elite program from an anonymous tipper.
Here's what the email invitation from Google said:
You and your household are invited to join the Screenwise Panel -- a new research study conducted for Google by Knowledge Networks. This opportunity will be available for the first 2,500 KnowledgePanel households who do the Screenwise Panel enrollment survey by Valentine's Day (Tuesday, February 14th).
It also specified what the participant would get for joining the program:
You will receive $100 for joining the Screenwise Panel, and $20 each month you participate, if you are eligible for the study and take the necessary steps to become a Screenwise Panel Member before March 1.
In other screenshots provided by the anonymous tipper, users are told that the box will only monitor household web access, but will not collect information from other devices, such as video gaming consoles.
The information collected from the program will be strictly tied to a person and their home network. On top of that, Google will be able to share the data with third parties such as academic institutions, advertisers, publishers and programming networks.
So what's your take?
Would you give up your Internet anonymity for between $5 and $100?