The idea that you ultimately own your data is pretty fundamental to creating effective privacy legislation. If you’re the sovereign “owner” of your data, then everyone from the spooks to Facebook must come to you and seek your permission – and justify using it. But if you don’t “own” anything, then you have nothing to assert. If you don’t “own” your data, then you are the product.
But the idea of attaching ownership to digital things is bitterly fought. Google fights every attempt with the response that it “breaks the internet“. This fight against ownership and permissions is actually the bedrock of Utopian belief – that nobody can own, or deny, or exclude, or assert rights on digital things. And people who don’t take this nuttily dogmatic position are still fatalistic: they shrug, and conclude we shouldn’t try. This had led to the quite surreal spectacle of libertarians fighting furiously against property rights, and the rule of law.
But this is beginning to change.
As Mark Bide told us: “Privacy and copyright are two things nobody cares about unless it’s their own privacy, and their own copyright.”