Data Ownership


Data Ownership

The first step toward open information markets is to give people Data Ownership. The simplest approach to defining what it means to "own your own data" is to go back to Old English Common Law for the three basic tenets of ownership, which are the rights of possession, use, and disposal:

  • possession: You have a right to possess your data. Companies should adopt the role of a Swiss bank account for your data. You open an account (anonymously, if possible), and you can remove your data whenever you’d like.
  • use: You, the data owner, must have full control over the use of your data. If you’re not happy with the way a company uses your data, you can remove it. All of it. Everything must be opt-in, and not only clearly explained in plain language, but with regular reminders that you have the option to opt out.
  • disposal: You have a right to dispose or distribute your data. If you want to destroy it or remove it and redeploy it elsewhere, it is your call.

Data Ownership refers to both the possession of and responsibility for information.

Data Ownership Is Still New [1]#

There's just one little niggle with this ownership contract of ours: it was never designed to account for information. Historically speaking, the idea of even owning information is relatively new. The earliest copyright laws—which granted the creator of a work exclusive rights to duplication and distribution of said work—first appeared in the early 18th century. It would still be hundreds of years, however, before the concept of "data" as we understand it even began to develop.

Ownership implies power as well as control. The control of information includes not just the ability to access, create, update, package, derive benefit from, sell or delete data, but also the right to assign these access privileges to others (Loshin, 2002).

Implicit in having control over access to data is the ability to share data with colleagues that promote advancement in a field of investigation (the notable exception to the unqualified sharing of data would be research involving human subjects). Scofield (1998) suggest replacing the term 'ownership' with 'stewardship', "because it implies a broader responsibility where the user must consider the consequences of making changes over 'his' data".

According to Garner (1999), individuals having Intellectual Property have rights to control intangible objects that are products of human intellect. The range of these products encompasses the fields of art, industry, and science. Research data is recognized as a form of Intellectual Property and subject to protection by U.S. law.

Paradigm of Ownership [2] #

David Loshin, in his book Enterprise knowledge management: The data quality approach . Morgan Kaufmann, 2001, described what he called the Paradigm of Ownership not with the intent of establishing who the legitimate Data Ownership should be, but to accent the complexity of ownership issues and to identify the list of parties laying a potential claim to data:
  • Creator – The party that creates or generate data
  • consumers – The party that uses the data owns the data
  • Compiler - This is the entity that selects and compiles information from different information sources
  • Enterprise - All data that enters the Enterprise or is created within the Enterprise is completely owned by the Enterprise
  • Funder - the user that commissions the data creation claims ownership
  • Decoder - In environments where information is "locked" inside particular encoded formats, the party that can unlock the information becomes an owner of that information
  • Packager - the party that collects information for a particular use and adds value through formatting the information for a particular market or set of consumers
  • Reader as owner - the value of any data that can be read is subsumed by the reader and, therefore, the reader gains value through adding that information to an information repository
  • Subject as owner - the subject of the data claims ownership of that data, mostly in reaction to another party claiming ownership of the same data
  • Purchaser/Licenser as Owner – the individual or organization that buys or licenses data may stake a claim to ownership

More Information#

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