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EN - 9 - Data Ownership

Page history last edited by Luca Cominassi 13 years, 1 month ago

This page is for discussing the content of the paragraph 9: Data Ownership

Go to Newropeans' initial working paper: FrontPage 


9. Data Ownership

As information processing reaches the population at large, computers and the net are being used by people who are not technically adept and do not want to be. This development is similar to what happened with cars: at first cars were for technically astute hobbyists, but the average driver of today has no knowledge of thermodynamics or even simple mechanics. Likewise the average computer user is not interested in programming and has often no idea of the capacities of the machine or how the data on it are organised.

This opening up of computing to the masses means an overwhelming majority of users are unable to look after their data, make regular backups, update their operating system and application software.

As a result services for storing data and providing on-line applications are becoming increasingly popular. The home computer is effectively becoming a simple terminal to a gigantic centralised computer. We are returning to the feudal system of centralised IT management, the “republic of responsible citizens” is fast becoming a minority as far as information processing is concerned.

But we all know what centralised IT management means: the user loses control. Fortunately there is still a choice of services and different types of services are provided by different companies.

There are monopolistic trends at work, but the worst aspect is that very often the service is provided by a company that is outside the legal space of the user. Yet the user thinks or is led to believe that they have control over the data they store with the service and that the service is indefinite and universal.

We urge the implementation of laws regulating the storage of private data outside the user’s private space. The issues to be addressed are:

  • access over time (can I still look at my photos on a photo storage site in ten years from now?)

  • privacy (can I be sure that no-one, not even the employees of the service company, can access my data unless I permit it?)

  • extraction (can I be sure that I can take my data back off the server in a usable format if I want to move to a different service or want to leave the service altogether?)

  • emigration (can I be sure that the service keeps no data about me or about my data if I wish to leave completely?)

  • jurisdiction (can I be sure that the servers I use are subject to the laws of the country I live in or at least those of the EU?)

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