Who Owns the Future? Data Trusts, Data Commons, and the Future of Data Ownership

39 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2019 Last revised: 26 Sep 2019

See all articles by Stuart Mills

Stuart Mills

London School of Economics & Political Science

Date Written: September 24, 2019


Who owns your data? And why do they? In this article, I consider various stakeholder claims to data ownership and the value generated by data, through a political economy lens. Following a data value framework established by the Open Data Institute, I first consider how data generates value from the point of its creation, how data as a resource imbues various stewardship obligations onto data controllers, and finally how – given competing interests – decision-making authority is apportioned across stakeholders.

This framework is then applied to three emerging models of data ownership: Laissez Faire, Data Trusts and Data Commons. The structural qualities of each model are revealed by an in-depth critique, before a visualisation of the data flows between stakeholders is offered.

Finally, I compare these models across categoric issues that emerge from this analysis, considering how each model tackles issues such as incentives, competition, innovation and feasibility.

Keywords: Data, Data Ownership, Data Trusts, Data Commons, Regulation

JEL Classification: B10, O33, O34, 035, 038

Suggested Citation

Mills, Stuart, Who Owns the Future? Data Trusts, Data Commons, and the Future of Data Ownership (September 24, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3437936 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3437936

Stuart Mills (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science

(PBS), 3rd Floor, Queens House
55/56 Lincoln's Inn
Fields, London, WC2A 3LJ
United Kingdom

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