Let’s have a look at some of the benefits – access to services for giving consent to the processing of personal data or additional discounts in exchange for providing an email address – they are almost standard and nobody questions them.
The above-mentioned benefits are free – at least in theory. In reality, however, we are providing personal data in exchange for receiving them. Looking at the online activities of entrepreneurs and the associated legal changes, the following conclusion emerges – the medium of exchange for digital services is not always cash. More often, what is more valuable than money is customers’ personal data (and, as a consequence, the ability to contact them) and information about their preferences.
Bearing in mind the principle of freedom of contract, it can certainly be said that the described situation is acceptable. However, let us emphasise that reference to this principle alone is not enough to be able to assess the phenomenon of 'payment’ with personal data. We should be mindful of the fact that „personal data as a peculiar counter performance is a category significantly different from, for example, traditional money or benefits of barter nature”. The above is due to the fact that personal data is a separate subject of protection (under the RODO and the provisions concerning, for example, the supply of electronic services). It is therefore important to bear in mind the issue of who 'pays’ with personal data, as this will very often be the consumer and it is important to focus on aspects concerning the protection of consumer rights and the issue of abusive clauses.
These aspects make it necessary to remember that simply leaving one’s email address in exchange for a discount on purchases in an online shop is no longer an insignificant action. This becomes important in a business context and, above all, on a legal level.