Author: Parmindar Jeet Singh
The article was first published in The Indian Express on July 27th, 2020. The views are of the individual author.
Data is almost universally recognised as the most valuable economic resource today. Seven out of the top 10 companies globally by market capitalisation are data-centric. In these circumstances, it appears strange that there has hardly been any worthwhile attempt to look at who has economic rights to various kinds of data, and how these rights can be exercised.
The present situation of data’s non-governance in economic terms suits the powerful actors that dominate digitally across the globe – US and Chinese companies and their respective governments. Whoever collects data de facto owns its economic value. So much so that data is increasingly spoken of as the property of the collecting digital companies, whereas the fact is that many court judgments and legal opinions consider property rights over data as extremely dubious. As digital systems build and get entrenched in all sectors, the default economic ownership of data by data collectors would soon be a fait accompli, impossible to reverse.
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