CNBC Interview with Roger McNamee: Consumers are getting a terrible deal in exchange for their personal data

CNBC, on June 3, 2019, interviewed Roger McNamee, co-founder of Elevation Partners and early Facebook investor, on the topic of antitrust and personal information (CNBC, Adami & McNamee, 2019).

According to McNamee antitrust views are changing. He notes that historically antitrust regulation was thought not to apply to Internet companies since the services they offered to consumers are free, but given recent revelations about the value of personal data, these antitrust views are changing.

In the interview, McNamee makes note of new MIT and Yale research suggests personal data, as the currency used to buy access to Internet services, has been experiencing huge price inflation. In light of these findings, McNamee asserts that “consumers are getting a terrible deal.” He also opines that society is also getting hurt, as the business practices of [big] Internet services, like Google, Amazon, and Facebook are blocking innovation, and are harming democracy, privacy, and public health.

McNamee states that Google, Facebook, and to some extent Amazon, may soon face antitrust regulation that could change their business models, restructure what markets they can compete in, or even break them up. He points out though that antitrust regulation is not ultimately bad, that in the end, investors win as antitrust regulatory efforts open up new market opportunities.

What does this mean for everyone?

It means we all must act.

Individuals should wake up and start actively taking control of their data, their digital sovereignty. They should fight for their rights and the economic benefits of their data. Companies should prepare for the emergence of the personal data economy and get ready to take advantage of the opportunities that are coming. And, governments should help referee the action as both player-coach-referee to help find a balance within their respective societies and the aggregate global economy.

Perfect timing, a few minutes after writing this article a friend of mine, Michael Ahearn, sent me a link to a wonderful McNamee (2019) opinion piece “A Brief History of How Your Privacy Was Stolen,” that was published in the New York Times. It is a VERY good and important read.


CNBC, Adami, G., & McNamee, R. (2019, June 3). Regulation will impact tech business models: McNamee. Retrieved from

McNamee, R. (2019, June 3). Opinion | A Brief History of How Your Privacy Was Stolen. The New York Times. Retrieved from

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