Datasets seem to be incredibly valuable to companies:
Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for $26.2 billion last year. LinkedIn has about 467 million members (and their profiles and connections).
IBM has acquired Truven Health (data on the cost and treatment of more than 200 million patients) for $2.6 billion and $2 billion for the digital assets of the Weather Company.
Google offers businesses a new software service to improve job finding and recruiting. Its data includes more than 17 million online job postings and the public profiles and résumés of more than 200 million people.
Increasingly, data collection, analysis and distribution creates and shapes markets. If the big internet companies attract more users and advertisers, and gather more and more data, a powerful “network effect” may prevent users and advertisers from moving away from a dominant digital platform, like Google in search or Facebook in consumer social networks. As a result, people might be afforded less privacy than they would choose in a more competitive market.