As the economic value of aggregating personal data has grown, so too have concerns over the economic power “owning” such data gives to those who collect it. Existing legal regimes governing data privacy have struggled to strike a balance between protecting personal privacy and preserving the economic efficiencies that can be gained by permitting the collection and exploitation of personal data. This Article proposes a collective re-conceptualization of one subset of personal data: information about what we do, say, and like. This data has little value in isolation—it only becomes valuable when combined with the information about what others do, say, and like. When so combined, this “big data” should be viewed, not as personal property, but as a collective norm. Those who collect this data deserve compensation in exchange for the economic efficiencies that its collection provides; but complete and unlimited ownership of that data—the result of the existing “private property” framework—is too rich. The Article explains how we arrived at the existing legal regime governing data privacy, evaluates existing structures to explain why they do not and cannot work, and argues that a reconceptualization of privacy makes sense economically, culturally, and morally. This Article concludes by suggesting a regulatory structure that might better serve all interested parties when privacy is considered as a collective norm.
John Shaeffer and Charlie Nelson Keever,
Privacy As a Collective Norm,
41 Loy. L.A. Ent. L. Rev. 253
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/elr/vol41/iss3/2