Last updated on 03/11/2021
Tang C. (first author). 12/16/2020. “Data Sovereigns for the World Economy.” Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 7, 184. Publisher's Version
With the rise of data capital and its instantaneous economic effects, existing data-sharing agreements have become complicated and are insufficient for capitalizing on the full value of the data resource. The challenge is to figure out how to derive benefits from data via the right to data portability. Among these, data ownership issues are complex and currently lack a concept that enables the right to data portability, is conducive to the free flow of cross-border data, and assists in the economic agglomeration of cyberspace. We propose defining the term “data sovereign” as a person or entity with the ability to possess and protect the data. First, the word “sovereign” is borrowed from the fundamental economic notion of William H. Hutt’s “consumer sovereignty.” This notion of sovereignty is strengthened by Max Weber’s classic definition of “power” – the ability to possess any resource. We envision that data capital would provide greater “cross-border” convenience for engaging in transactions and exchanges with very different cultures and societies. In our formulation, data sovereign status is achieved when one both possesses the data and can defend any attack on that data. Using “force” to protect data does not imply an abandonment of data sharing. Rather, it should be easy for an organization to enable the sharing of data and data products internally or with trusted partners. Examples of an attack on the data might be a data breach scandal, identity theft, or data terrorism. In the future, numerous tedious, time-consuming, non-artistry, manual occupational tasks can be replaced by data products that are part of a global data economy.