What is The True Meaning of Data Ownership & Online Privacy

Gal Ringel
6
min read

Data ownership is part of our mission statement here at Mine, but just because these may seem like obvious concepts to those of us living and breathing data privacy, doesn’t mean they require no explanation.

What Is Data Ownership & How to Achieve It

As the debate around data privacy grows, new members of the movement could use an in-depth definition of data ownership. Well, here we are, ready to answer your every question. 

So, what is data ownership, really? 

While the definition of data ownership isn’t something you’ll find in a dictionary (yet!), it has a widely common interpretation. Data ownership is a concept that refers to the understanding that consumers have legal rights over their personal data. In other words, <hl>data ownership is the fundamental realization that people own their private information, online or off.<hl>

When organizations collect and use this data, they do not acquire ownership over it and instead deal with assets that belong to other individuals. Therefore, any action related to data must meet specific rules and regulations to protect its rightful owners. 

Current times and new regulations in the field like GDPR and CCPA reaffirm the fact that clear ownership definitions and guidelines are in order. We see the term forming as people learn to demand their privacy rights. 

How was the term data ownership created?

Like many things in life, the idea of data ownership was born out of necessity. It didn’t exist, so it had to be manifested. Not too long ago, before data privacy became an established right, it was far from clear that people own their data.

As innovative technologies fueled by data became the norm in the social media and online advertising era, the need to set boundaries became clear. The combination of data-based tech tools and the rising awareness around the power of data caused the online privacy movement to grow. People became concerned about their digital footprint and its impact (read this to better understand what is a digital footprint). 

Vast changes involving debates and regulation had to take place for us to be where we are today. While concepts like online privacy and data management existed, they lacked the fundamental understanding regarding the ownership of said data.

Unless we establish that people are the only rightful owners of their personal information, any guidelines around control and consent will lack significant gravitas. The path towards data ownership is still being built, but we are well on our way. 

OK, but what does data ownership mean in practice?

Once we establish ownership over personal data, many important related rights stem from that definition. Data governance born out of this legal ownership limits the steps organizations can take and offers more information and control to individual users.

<hl>Owners can now manage, assign, trade, and withdraw consent while businesses cannot.<hl> Online platforms like Mine offer the ability to manage data independently, giving end-users the tools to stay updated on the businesses collecting their data and shut down anything that feels intrusive or irrelevant. 

This practical influence also covers third parties engaging in any business activity with the companies collecting or using private data. Everyone involved must ensure that the legal owner of the data approved this conduct. Otherwise, they risk various legal implications that might cost the organization a lot of money and cause hard-to-repair repetitional damage. 

As you can see, data ownership is far from being a general, theoretical notion. It symbolizes change and turns a newly established human right into privacy in practice.

Data Ownership - Mine

Data ownership regulation

Laws like GDPR and CCPA play a vital role in the practical meaning of data ownership. While each law includes specific guidelines and restrictions, most regulation in the field revolves around the same basic rights:

  • Consent: Organizations must receive the clear and aware approval of data owners before collecting and using their private information. Consent should be asked and given explicitly and can be revoked at any given moment by the owner. 
  • Erasure: As part of ‘the right to be forgotten’, consumers are entitled to request that the data collected about them by services will be deleted. After verifying an erasure request, businesses need to delete all personal data they hold about a consumer and notify him about the deletion. 
  • Access: People have the right to know which information companies collect and how it is being used. Accessing the data gathered by businesses should be easy, and a detailed and complete report of the data should be offered within the law’s specific time limit
  • Withdrawal: Giving consent doesn’t transfer ownership over the data in any way, and owners can withdraw their consent and ask that the data be deleted or limited in use. This means that companies should handle the data they are permitted to use carefully. Otherwise, they might lose all access. 

Where is data ownership headed next?

It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come but even more thrilling to think of what’s in store next. We can expect regulation in the field to keep growing as more states and regions join the global data privacy club. GDPR and CCPA were pioneers, but their influence can be seen in the new laws born every minute. 

The public debate helps push regulation forward, giving the data privacy movement an important job in promoting data ownership. Together, laws and discussions help set boundaries and make data ownership rights clear and strong. 

Smart companies also recognize the business opportunity created thanks to data ownership and are fast to embrace higher privacy standards and the tools that enable them. Mine for Business is one example of technology that began as a platform for consumers giving individual users more control, and today offers businesses innovative ways to manage data subject requests while building a healthy relationship with users. 

The consumer’s platform continues to give individual internet users an easy path towards data ownership, with a detailed list of the businesses accessing their data, and ways to control these sharing preferences anytime. 

<hl>Overall, our data ownership vision is based on the belief that this new reality is better for everyone, and data should be used in a transparent, respectful way based on trust.<hl>