CORDIS
EU research results

CORDIS

English EN
The impact of 'free' digital offers on individual behavior and its implications for consumer and data protection laws

The impact of 'free' digital offers on individual behavior and its implications for consumer and data protection laws

Objective

Many online services and products are offered ‘free’ of charge but in exchange for personal data. Research shows that consumers overvalue the benefits and undervalue the non-monetary costs of zero-price products. Yet, it remains unknown whether offering ‘free’ digital content in exchange for personal data distorts consumer decisions about 1)entering into a transaction, 2)sharing personal data, and 3)enforcing contractual and data protection rights. These questions are important because digital content, even this for ‘free’, might involve certain hazards. For instance, it might be defective causing detriment to its users or consumers’ personal data might be misused. In this project, I will provide evidence on consumer reactions to digital content offered at a zero price by conducting online experiments, in which individuals will perform a real effort task and decide whether to use an application that can help them solve the task. This application will be offered in a premium and a cheaper basic version supplied in exchange for personal data. In separate treatments, I will manipulate the price of the two versions - decrease the price of the basic version from a small amount to zero and change the price of the premium version accordingly. I will observe whether reducing the price of the basic version to zero influences participants choices on which application to use and whether to provide personal data in exchange. I will further introduce a failure in the basic version and measure whether participants complain and request deletion of their personal data depending on the price of the application. Next, I will test whether interventions proposed by legal scholars (e.g., informing users that their personal data constitute counter-performance) change these decisions. Finally, based on these data I will develop arguments contributing to legal discussions in consumer and data protection law and suggest solutions that will improve consumer welfare and privacy protection.
Leaflet | Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, Credit: EC-GISCO, © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries

Coordinator

UNIVERSITEIT MAASTRICHT

Address

Minderbroedersberg 4-6
6200 Md Maastricht

Netherlands

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 281 358,72

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 843188

Status

Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 July 2019

  • End date

    30 June 2022

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 281 358,72

  • EU contribution

    € 281 358,72

Coordinated by:

UNIVERSITEIT MAASTRICHT

Netherlands