A company called Datum says it's developing software that will allow people to sell their personal information to businesses.

It's now looking to partner with major computer firms to get the programme embedded in computers.

Here is a rundown of what you need to know.

How it would work

Whenever you browse the internet, access your email, use social networks or play online games you are generating valuable data that can be monetised. Companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter earn billions from that data – they use it to target advertising back at you.

But this new software would change that. The idea is you buy a computer with Datum installed and it can then either help you make money from the data you generate though a monthly earning programme managed by the computer manufacturer – or you get a discount on a new laptop or computer in return for letting the company that made the computer profit from your data.

The software is no different to having an operating system embedded on your laptop. You would be able to choose whether you actively engaged with Datum and used specific apps in order to track your usage, or the programme will simply run in the background on your computer.

“Laptops and other devices are already an integral part of our daily lives. Instead of simply using them and, perhaps earning from our work, on an active basis, we should also be thinking about how we can earn from these devices on a passive basis,” says Datum.

[Read more: The shocking financial secrets we hide from our loved ones]

Why your data is valuable

When you surf the internet or use social networks you give away details of your likes and dislikes. This data can be used to show you targeted advertising that you are more likely to click on - so companies can make money from gathering details about you and using them to sell adverising.

Firms can also profit from selling on information about you such as your email address, name and telephone number.

All that data is forecast to be worth £300 billion a year by 2020, according to economic think tank Bruegel. However, up until now us users – the people generating the data – had very few ways to personally profit from it.

These days we spend more time on our electronic devices than we do sleeping – eight hours and 41 minutes versus eight hours and 21 minutes – all that time we are creating data that could be earning us money.

“On average, each person generates around $2,000 [£1,516] worth of personal data every year,” says Datum.

“If monetised, that would pay for a new, high-end notebook every year, with some spare change for accessories.”

[Read more: Five money myths that could cost you]