Legal Responses to the Commodification of Personal Data in the Era of Big Data: The Paradigm Shift from Data Protection towards Data Ownership

Legal Responses to the Commodification of Personal Data in the Era of Big Data: The Paradigm Shift from Data Protection towards Data Ownership

Emile Douilhet (Bournemouth University, UK) and Argyro P. Karanasiou (Bournemouth University, UK)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0182-4.ch009
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Abstract

Big Data is a relatively recent phenomenon, but has already shown its potential to drastically alter the relationship between businesses, individuals, and governments. Many organisations now control vast amounts of raw data, and those industry players with the resources to mine that data to create new information have a significant advantage in the big data market. The aim of this chapter is to identify the legal grounds for the ownership of big data: who legally owns the petabytes and exabytes of information created daily? Does this belong to the users, the data analysts, or to the data brokers and various infomediaries? The chapter presents a succinct overview of the legal ownership of big data by examining the key players in control of the information at each stage of processing of big data. It then moves on to describe the current legislative framework with regard to data protection and concludes in additional techno-legal solutions offered to complement the law of big data in this respect.
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Background

The transition from the traditional economic model of neoliberal markets in the post-industrial era to “informational capitalism” (Cohen 2016), based on a data-driven economy has challenged conventional legal thinking. Often referred to as the oil of the 21st century, data has become a valuable asset for the key stakeholders offering services in the digital era. At the same time, the law has been struggling to cope with this overbroad scope and definition of “data”, as it does not purely address the user’s privacy, being able to reveal one’s identity but it can also be valorized and thus imply property entitlements for user generated data. The following section explores how data can be legally assessed during various stages of processing: in doing so, it is intended to demonstrate how big data appears to be an area not overly addressed by the current regulative framework, which focusses mostly on data protection and appears to bear little attention to how data can gain monetary value and thus allow for property based claims.

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