Who ‘owns’ data – Gina Neff (01.03.19 podcast)

There’s a lot to take in from this recent podcast with Gina Neff about self-tracking devices and the surrounding issues of personal data. One important point is her take on the question of data ownership. As Neff reasons:

“The data isn’t ever wholly your’s. The anthropologist Bill Maurer has used this metaphor of ‘kinship rights’ for data. We shouldn’t think of data having ownership so much as data having parents. And that’s a metaphor that sits really well with people, because if I create data, it is of me – it is of my body, it is of my experience. And there are rights and responsibilities – both to me and to my data – that really can’t be dismissed easily. And so, the idea of ownership suggests that I could give it up, or I could be absolved of the responsibilities for that. On the other hand, Maurer reminds up that the data wouldn’t exist in that form without the company that is helping make the device”

“One of the things that we argue in our book is that our data are not really our’s. We have this notion in Western societies that you think of this unified individual. And yet .. we have these commonalities [with others]. And so when we think about these digital devices they are marketed and sold as empowering individual action and yet there are so many interesting ways that our data implicates others…”.