I feel strongly that we should have non-exclusive ownership of our raw behavioral data — that’s something we should never be able to give away (cf. http://thenoisychannel.com/2011/02/05/google-vs-bing-a-tweetle-beetle-battle-muddle). And most countries mandate legal rights beyond that, e.g., our right to see and correct certain kinds of data that companies maintain about us. Perhaps most importantly, laws govern how companies can use their data about us.

But I’m not convinced that we should have any inherent rights to inferences that companies make from observing our behavior. Especially if those companies have already provided something of value to us — in a relationship governed by informed consent — in exchange for those observations.

But if we maintain our own data in an accessible form, we can draw our own inferences from it. Or we can share it with whomever we please (an area where I’d love to see Apple show leadership). And if we collectively pool our data, we can share in the value of the inferences. But we have to start by seeing value in an alternative to the current model.

High-Class Consultant.

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