Ownership of Personal Data in the Internet of Things

Computer Law & Security Review, 2018, 34(5), 1039-1052

22 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2019

See all articles by Václav Janeček

Václav Janeček

University of Bristol Law School; University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2017


This article analyses, defines, and refines the concepts of ownership and personal data. It critically examines the traditional dividing line between personal and non-personal data and argues for a strict conceptual separation of personal data from personal information. The article also considers whether, and to what extent, the concept of ownership can be applied to personal data in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT). This consideration is framed around two main approaches shaping all ownership theories: a bottom-up and top-down approach. Via these dual lenses, the article reviews existing debates relating to four elements supporting introduction of ownership of personal data, namely the elements of control, protection, valuation, and allocation of personal data. It then explores the explanatory advantages and disadvantages of the two approaches in relation to each of these elements as well as to ownership of personal data in IoT at large. Lastly, the article outlines a revised approach to ownership of personal data in IoT that may serve as a blueprint for future regulatory and policy debates in the context of EU law and beyond.

Keywords: personal data, personal information, non-personal data, data, information, ownership, Internet of Things, EU law, property, GDPR, review, rights, control, protection, valuation, allocation, bottom-up, top-down, ELI, token, type, personal information management system, ethics, data ethics

JEL Classification: K10, K11, K12, K13, K21, K23, K29, K39

Suggested Citation

Janeček, Václav, Ownership of Personal Data in the Internet of Things (December 1, 2017). Computer Law & Security Review, 2018, 34(5), 1039-1052, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3111047 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3111047

Václav Janeček (Contact Author)

University of Bristol Law School ( email )

University of Bristol
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
Bristol, BS8 ITH
United Kingdom

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St Cross Building
St Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UL
United Kingdom

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