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22 May Subscribe
Tech news with a HAT perspective 
Issue 100
Let’s get it out there...
This being our 100th issue, we thought it would be apt to address the question most asked of those who work in personal data. Can you own your data?

You cannot believe just how many people have asked us this question of "can you truly truly own your data” and data ownership challenges.... at some point we are thinking we should record our responses into some device that can just play back whenever someone asks. So for our 100th issue, we're recording it into MadHATTERS.

Can you own your data?
Legally? No.

Yeah, you can’t own data. Not just your data. Any data. Full stop. It’s bitstrings of 1s and 0s. It’s like water. Or air. It flows every where. It’s messy.

So you can’t own it because it’s messy.
Yes. You can’t own anything that has no boundaries. The air in your room gets out to another room. Water coming into your garden flows away. 

I sense there is a BUT...?
You CAN own water rights. You CAN own bottled air (oxygen) and you CAN own a cup of water.

So you can own..... water, air, data?
No, that’s not what I said. You can own something that has clear boundaries and that give you rights to it. Or you can own a vessel that has clear boundaries that give you rights to what is in it.

So you can own something that your data is in?
Yes. It’s called a database. The EU and the US have laws that protect database ownership rights.

So you can legally own your data if you own your own database?
No. But you can legally own RIGHTS to the content of your database. Which, could be your data. That’s not owning data legally, that is owning more rights to your data than if your data was sitting in, say, the NHS or Google. 

So why do you all at HAT say that you can own your data?
Well, “ownership” is not just a legal construct. It is also a social construct. We may not be able to legally own something, but we can perceive that we own it. If we have control over something, what we often call agency, we can feel we own it. Like phone messages. And emails. (You don’t really think you own it do you?) So we don’t think you should close the debate down just because you can’t own your data legally and consider that as an end of the conversation. We need to be much more mature in understanding ownership and to get into a conversation of how we can “meaningfully” own data, which to us, is owning as many rights to it as possible.

So ... the more rights the greater the perception of “ownership”?
Yes. At the minimum - access or usage is what most companies give you under GDPR. At the maximum - probably full rights to use, exclude others from using, transfer the rights, rights to recombine, reuse and transform the data.

Why are rights and boundaries important?
Well, without rights, you can’t trade or exchange anything legally and economics depend on movement of things and rights so that means if you want to be able to exchange data properly, you need proper rights attributed to them and proper boundaries surrounding it.

I'm a little less confused. But it would be nice to know how you can give individuals more rights to our data.
Might want to check out Irene Ng’s HAT Data Ownership model paper if you want the full gory details.

Yours in HAT,

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

Not yet the Doghouse

We won’t talk to Google, I promise

says DeepMind, in 2016, that the NHS patient data they received will not have anything to do with Google.

Yippee, we sold to Google

in Deep Mind's latest blog, the app that used the data is joining Google. Cue *eye roll*. I am sure the app is of great benefit to doctors and nurses but seriously, couldn't they at least be honest about it.

Well, the ICO is "monitoring the situation"... major lesson for us in data... provenance - make sure your source is clean and legal guys...that dubious baggage of "was it legal - what you did?" is going to keep haunting them...Hey, how about giving it back to HAT owners and ask us back for it. Too advanced a thought..

The present

"What we really need is a smart cities digital platform!"

Us , says Huawei - and ours have AI too!

The future

"What we really need is a smart cities digital platform."

Comic of the week
RIP Stan Lee

HAT News

Notice that MadHATTERS was late this week?

We have the best excuse - our own Jonathan Holtby is now a real dad! Yup, after months and months of believing that no baby in the world would risk Jonathan as the father, Summer Florence Holtby decided that she'll take a punt and came to the world. Congratulations to Holtbys!!! Mum and daughter and doing swimmingly well

What has this to do with MadHATTERS you say? Well, we decided to go for a drink and next thing you know it's Friday....


Leila Trilby, on double duty

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