There are solid arguments to be had about how to balance individual and collective rights to data ownership. Those arguing that we should simply become “data shareholders” and earn a financial return on our data, with Facebook and Google continuing to mine it for advertising or other purposes, should perhaps grapple with the fact that full value of such data emerges only once it’s aggregated across many individuals (even more so in the case of using it for machine learning), so one cannot simply take the total revenue of these companies and divide it by the number of individual users to figure out what each of us is due. Plus, a lot of the data that we generate, when we walk down a tax-funded city street equipped with tax-funded smart street lights, is perhaps better conceptualised as data to which we might have social and collective use rights as citizens, but not necessarily individual ownership rights as producers or consumers.

After the Facebook scandal it’s time to base the digital economy on public v private ownership of data

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