Before copyright laws protected published works and intellectual property, American publishing houses would take novels by Charles Dickens and other authors, publish them word for word, and make money off the sales without paying a cent to the owners of the content. This soon became a problem for writers. It was obvious a law would need to protect the work and ideas of individuals with rightful claims to original creation.
As the written word evolved, so did the way it was transferred, disseminated and treated. People came to understand the value of giving credit to creators, from both a monetary and recognition perspective. As the significance of this grew, the legal implications that emerged helped govern it.
Data ownership in some ways has become the modern-day equivalent of novels and copyright. Questions of ownership, regulation and privacy are constantly changing with innovations in technology and the expanding generation and sharing of data.
In an effort to answer some of these questions, peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing platforms encourage collaboration with a mindful eye on ownership and regulation. But an even more effective remedy to solving data ownership issues is the decentralization of P2P platforms. Moving the focus and transportation of data away from a central server, node or company, allows data sharers to follow the rules while creating their own.
Who Owns The Data?
Data ownership is not just a broad term describing who owns a particular data set at a certain point in time, but rather it encompasses both possession,responsibility and even liability for information. An important distinction in data ownership is the control of it, meaning whoever can access, modify or benefit from data also has the power to reassign ownership and privilege to others. This is where data ownership becomes worrisome and foggy.
When data is flowing from one country to another in lightning speed, there is little time to pause and transfer responsibility from one entity to the other. A good rule of thumb, and an official one concerning all European Union citizens’ data, is to assume the laws and regulations of one territory always apply to data no matter where it travels. In places like the United States, where the laws are less defined, this can be in the disinterest of the users’ privacy, creating cause for laws like the ones in the E.U.
Evolution of Values
Most organizations begin data ownership policies with a centralized model — where one person or group is responsible for data across an entire enterprise. This worked effectively in the beginning of data ownership, just as authors releasing limited editions of their books in the early 1800s didn’t fear theft of work or the resulting benefits. But with widespread circulation of both books in the pre-Victorian era and data in 21st-century digital environments, relying on a singular responsible party became unrealistic.
Now, it is only natural for companies to evolve to a decentralized model of data sharing. This displaces all the value of having a central model to privacy protection and comprehensive knowledge of sharing practices. The main advantage of using a decentralized sharing platform is the ability to remove the on-premise middle man and the associated restrictions. But this shift in values and concerns will have lasting effects on both the short-term and long-term use of such platforms.
Sharing data in any form — centralized, decentralized or otherwise — can have a serious ripple effect on the individuals sharing information and the companies transferring it across borders. Conforming to regulations when first sharing data requires the use of audit trails, exposure policies and sharing permissions to ensure, even at the most basic level, data is secure. On-premise cybersecurity most perfectly covers these bases, but cloud capability is not far behind. In fact, cloud platforms will surely (and has already) expand data sharing to new capacities and competencies.
As the cloud becomes more popular and widely used, privacy by design will become standard. This ideal predefines rule-based activity. Drawing stark lines when the borders of data ownership are blurring protects citizens’ information. P2P platforms allow these pre-defined rules to be as rigid or fluid as needed for both company and user interest.
Staying Ahead of the Crowd
Data sharing is revolutionizing the way companies learn, grow and operate. As the cloud overtakes on-premise protection of data sharing, information can begin to flow even more rapidly. Users always need to consider the regulations in the places where data is being “owned.” Ownership has evolved to be a lofty responsibility; it is easy to get lost in the complexities of what laws to follow and when.
Decentralized P2P platforms should take the confusion out of this process, remove a middle man and encourage increased collaboration. This clarifies the lines to be drawn and the ways a company can make its own rules.
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