Data Property Rights

February 6, 2008

You have data in at least one web application. Given that you’re reading this, the chances are that you have data in many web applications. If you don’t like the way your data are being used by the application, you can always leave. So you want your data to be portable.

Nitin, posting at GigaOm today, argued that data portability isn’t as important as what he terms data property rights. He went further, to state that “data portability is a non-solution to a non-problem.”

Is the DataPortability WorkGroup, then, solving a non-problem? I don’t think so. I just wish that we could solve the problem of its misleading name.

I like Nitin’s post, in part because it highlights this problem. I also like it because of his application of the exit-voice framework to the issues. Portability relates to exit, to taking your data elsewhere. Data property rights relate to voice, to having a say in what is done with your data.

Exit and portability are important as threats. If you don’t like what an app provider is doing with your data, you should have a credible threat of exit. The existence of the threat is one of the reasons for app providers to behave themselves.

DataPortability’s first principle is that: We want sovereignty over the profiles, relationships, content and media we create and maintain. Portability itself is only one aspect of that sovereignty.

2 Responses to “Data Property Rights”

  1. Lloyd Budd Says:

    When I click on your link to http://groups.google.com/group/dataportability-public/web/charter it reads “Sorry… You have to be a manager of this group to view this page. “

  2. Andrew Says:

    Thanks for reporting this, Lloyd. That doesn’t seem like an appropriate security setting, given that it’s the charter of a public group concerned with open standards…


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