Stop Speaking About Personal Data ‘Ownership’

No ‘Data Ownership’ in EU Legislation

In the EU legislation the protection of natural persons in relation to the processing of personal data is a fundamental right, but at present there is no EU legislation that regulates the question of ownership in data. The case-law at EU level does not recognise explicitly an ownership right in data and at national level there are also no legislations relating to data ownership (César, Debussche, & Van Asbroeck, 2017)

Non Conclusions

Yes it might be elegant and convenient to have a default rights holder. However, my experience is that usually the discussion gets very unproductive whenever someone opens the Pandora’s box and tries to define exactly, which party that ‘data owner’ would be. Data can be collected, copied, generated, aggregated, analysed, verified, modified, stored, transformed… what after all is ‘the data’ that we are assign property rights on?



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Antti Jogi Poikola

Antti Jogi Poikola


Founder and board member at MyData Global (, Data economy specialist at Technology Industries Finland (