Not long after the release of Google’s widely discussed and hotly contested privacy policy, which shares user data across its websites, the company is now offering to compensate customers for the data that they provide. Closely resembling the television tracking techniques used by  Nielsen, Google offers users who participate in the screenwise program up to $25 in Amazon gift cards for allowing Google to monitor their online activities. Users can even opt to be more extensively surveilled and earn up to $100.  While some (in particular, those in the comments section of the article linked above) view this as a cheap payoff for strong privacy violations, others are happy to receive monetary compensation for engaging in everyday leisure activities. This latter group is evidenced by a temporary hold on signups for the new program due to overwhelming interest.

Debates will likely ensue over the cost of privacy, the blurry line between labor and leisure, and the degree to which surveillance can—or should—be resisted.

[Editor’s comment: while this is only a small test, might we envision a model where users are paid for their data? Would it work? What are the implications? ~nathan]