Cambridge Analytica Was Working on an ICO Before the Controversy

Cambridge Analytica Was Working on an ICO… and Actually it Was a Pretty Cool Concept Worth Pondering

Cambridge Analytica was working on an ICO before the recent controversy. Oddly, their ICO idea was a solid one. It was a token that helped you monetize your data.[1]

All drama and shade related to recent Cambridge Analytica news aside, that is actually a really cool concept for a token.

Instead of X-company getting your data and selling it to a company like Cambridge Analytica, you could get paid in tokens for selling your own information to a company like Cambridge Analytica.

“Prior to the Facebook controversy, we were developing a suite of technologies to help individuals reclaim their personal data from corporate entities and to have full transparency and control over how their personal data are used,” a spokesperson said. “We were exploring multiple options for people to manage and monetize their personal data, including blockchain technology.”

– An excerpt from Cambridge Analytica planned to issue digital currency: sources at

Given the recent drama, Cambridge Analytica’s ICO plans have been put on hold, but it is still worth pondering the concept for a second.

For me the takeaways are the follow (i’m being light hearted, but also sort of serious):

  1. Of course the company that sold everyone’s data in this shady set of events was doing an ICO… “lol.”
  2. Conceptually this is one of the few ICO tokens that actually makes sense to me given the current environment we find ourselves in.

Why do I think this makes sense? Here is my reasoning:

We clearly live in a world in which we can expect that our data will continue to be treated as a commodity, and we clearly live in a world where we speculate on assets online (for example, cryptocurrencies).

It only makes sense to mash up these two concepts. And, since we are mashing them up, we may as well get the benefit as individuals.

The current model of “use our service and we get your data and sell it” that is so popular these days is arguably not great for the consumer. The consumer trades their very valuable data for the ability to use a service, the company who gets the data sees profits and their share price increase, the consumer gets no return unless they own the company’s stock.

The consumer’s data is a valuable commodity at the center of many business models, yet the consumer doesn’t get a cut (they get to use a service, which has value, but they don’t get capital).

A world where we control our own data and then sell our own data to marketing companies for digital tokens is arguably a more desirable world than a world in which we theoretically control our data but in practice it is monetized by others.

If we are going to live in a world where our data is a commodity and money exists in the form of highly speculative digital tokens, it only makes sense that we would get a cut of the proceeds from our data in the form of digital tokens.

Cambridge Analytica was working on making that future a reality… and that is pretty cool.

Today we own our data in theory, but others monetize it in practice. A world where we can own our data in practice and monetize it in practice, is slightly better.

Is it ironic that Cambridge Analytica of all entities brought this idea to the light? I would say so. Anyways, always good to have a conversation starter.

Here is to a slightly better future that has been put on hold.

FOR MORE, SEECommodity Fetishism, Consumerism, the Society of the Spectacle, Alienation, and More in the age of digital media. In a consumer capitalist where you are a commodity where we all speculate on internet money, is a token that combines these two ideas not at least a little bit genius?

Article Citations
  1. Cambridge Analytica planned to issue digital currency: sources.

Author: Thomas DeMichele

Thomas DeMichele has been working in the cryptocurrency information space since 2015 when was created. He has contributed to MakerDAO, Alpha Bot (the number one crypto bot on Discord),...

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