Imagine a day without emails, messages and notifications. Sounds like stone age, doesn’t it? We live in a world where electronic communication has surpassed virtually all other forms of communication. Stated differently, most, if not all, of the communication is digitised, be it telephonic conversations, mails or chat messages. This has resulted in tons and tons of data being generated and consumed daily. This “data”, when processed, creates rich “information” about people, things and places. Data, is indeed the new Oil, the new currency; but who owns this currency?
Governments: Can governments claim to own data that is generated at geographies under their jurisdiction. If so, does my email or my blog post belong to me or the government? If data is oil, then oil could be owned by the government and it gets “royalty”, a share for every barrel that is extracted (generated) under its jurisdiction. This kind of a structure is detrimental to the spirit of freedom where human produce (data, in this case) is indirectly taken from the producer of data to the state. Thus, data cannot be owned by the government. “Royalty”, in this case, can be in-direct based on the tax the government collects on the revenue generated by the author of data or someone who processes it
Corporations: Using the Oil analogy again, does Oil belong to the state or the Oil Exploration and Production (E&P) company? In case of data, does my data belong to the Email service provider, Messaging platform, etc. or me? An Oil E&P company takes significant financial risks as they may not discover oil at all. But that is not the case with corporations that manage data. An email or telephone or messaging service provider doesn’t run the risk of not having data. These organisations facilitate one or more of creation, storage and communication of data. Can these organisations then claim to own Data?
While Oil is a naturally available resource, Data is a human generated resource; and in most cases, originally developed by intellect of an individual. Data, thus, has to belong to the person who created it and under no circumstances can be owned by either the Government or the Corporations
Remember, we have not yet even started talking about privacy of Data!