Who Owns My Data?
a presentation given at University of Maastricht, NL
Nov 9-10, 2017
Ownership, legally defined as a bundle of rights in the thing that is owned, arises from some provision in either common law or in statute that gives us rights in that thing in the first place. We own land because we bought it or we inherited it from someone who bought it or either we or our ancestors laid claim to it in the absence of anyone else contesting our claim. Similarly, we own other property because we bought it we were gifted it or we inherited it. If there are competing claims to our property, our own claim is weakened until we can prove otherwise. We own statutory rights in intellectual property based on our authorship of that work with sufficient creativity. However, none of these characteristics define health data. We produce health data through the act of existing, but we don’t have any creativity in it. The only thing we have is a right to privacy that gives us the prerogative to deny the use of our data by others. The question then becomes – should we own our health data or not? and what would be implications of doing so one way or another?