Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

May 27, 2007 5:55pm

data bill of rights

I'm de-cloaking for a moment here to mention John Batelle's excellent Data Bill of Rights, published about a month ago. It popped into relief again for me with the announcement of Google's purchase of FeedBurner, and all the RSS traffic data that rides along.

The rights, enumerated:

  • Data Transparency. We can identify and review the data that companies have about us.
  • Data Portability. We can take copies of that data out of the company's coffers and offer it to others or just keep copies for ourselves.
  • Data Editing. We can request deletions, editing, clarifications of our data for accuracy and privacy.
  • Data Anonymity. We can request that our data not be used, cognizant of the fact that that may mean services are unavailable to us.
  • Data Use. We have rights to know how our data is being used inside a company.
  • Data Value. The right to sell our data to the highest bidder.
  • Data Permissions. The right to set permissions as to who might use/benefit from/have access to our data.

I like where this is going, but I believe that it's a bit toothless unless the ownership of that data is clarified. As long as the legal owner of personal data is assumed to be the company in possession (Google, FeedBurner, Facebook, etc.), the enumerated rights will be considered the responsibility of P.R. and marketing. If it were somehow possible to push the bill of rights into the legal department, this idea would gain some serious traction. It would also have the possibly-beneficial side effect of depressing valuations for data collection companies like FeedBurner or DoubleClick, or even Google itself. It might also have a similar effect on the financial world, giving companies such as ChoicePoint a well-deserved kick in the teeth.

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