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What Is Data Ownership?

A person looking at data analytics.

On the web, our data isn't safe. Big tech makes billions collecting our data, using it to sell ad space. On the other hand, data brokers purchase, aggregate, and sell your personal information to companies and other third parties. Data is valuable. In fact, in 2022, the global data market was valued at 271.8 Billion USD.

It's hard to pinpoint who has access to our data. We don't get notified when a third party purchases our data from a broker, nor do we know who it is. This lack of transparency is concerning and can result in the misuse or mishandling of our personal details, as there's no guarantee that third-party buyers maintain the same security standards as brokers.

Since we create the data that companies collect, shouldn't we have a say in how it's used? If our data is so valuable, then it's only fair to get compensated for our data's value. After all, it's our data. But how do we even get that seat at the table? Enter data ownership.

Data Ownership Defined

Data ownership is the concept that individuals should have the right to own and have control over their data. While this idea has only gained traction in the past four years, it emphasizes the importance of autonomy over one's information rather than leaving it in the hands of corporations or third parties. There are three main principles of data ownership:

  • Control: Individuals decide who can access their data and revoke access whenever they want.

  • Transparency: You have the right to know how your data is used.

  • Compensation: If you share your data, you should get compensated for its value.

Essentially, data ownership shifts the balance of power from corporations back to individuals.

Why Data Ownership Matters

The volume of data collected from our online activities is staggering. With every new revelation about these collection practices, the significance of data ownership becomes even more apparent. It's about privacy and ensuring your information is kept safe.

Your data is at risk: Data ownership isn't just about having control; it's about ensuring your privacy is respected and protected. You have the right to have your data protected from misuse. A prime example of data misuse is the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The political consulting firm figured out a loophole to harvest the data of 87 million Facebook users, using the data to try to influence the 2016 election. This scandal highlighted the vulnerabilities in how data is protected and led to a global demand for stricter data protection measures, resulting in the introduction of privacy laws like the GDPR.

More devices collect data than ever: Nowadays, anything connected to the internet collects data. Take cars, for instance. The Mozilla Foundation examined the privacy policies of 25 car brands and found they are the worst product category for privacy. Some brands, such as Nissan, even indicated in their privacy policy that they can collect deeply personal data, from genetic information to sexual activity. What's more alarming is that over half of the car companies state they would readily share user data with government or law enforcement if requested. Not one met their basic privacy standards, with 84% saying they can share the data they collect with brokers and other businesses.

Companies profit off your personal information: It's a lucrative business. Companies make millions collecting, packaging, and selling our data. Acxiom, one of the leading global data brokers, made $617M in revenue in 2022. All that revenue was generated from processing our personal information. At its core, they're taking what is rightfully ours and profiting off it.

What are ways to achieve data ownership?

Achieving data ownership is a challenging journey. It requires new laws and a shift in how the internet is built. However, several promising solutions are already in the works.

Privacy Tools: Tools like Cyder empower users to take control of their data. Cyder is a browser extension that protects your privacy, blocking trackers, cookies, and ads. It’s simple to use and works seamlessly on your existing browser. Additionally, if you choose to share your data, you get rewarded with gift cards.

Privacy Legislation: As technology advances, so does the need for better privacy laws. Implementing privacy legislation sets standards and holds entities accountable for their privacy practices. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a notable example. It sets strict guidelines for data collection. The GDPR even offers EU citizens the right to be forgotten, meaning that you have the right to have your data erased. Similarly, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Bill C-27 in Canada give individuals greater control over their privacy and impose heavy fines on organizations that do not comply.

Blockchain Technology: It’s still early, but blockchain technology holds much promise. The reason being transparency and security. The blockchain is decentralized; no government or corporation has ownership over it. It’s also public, which provides complete transparency of how data is transferred from one organization to another. Additionally, it’s impossible to tamper with information stored on a blockchain. Think of the blockchain as a digital book everyone can read, but no single person can erase or change a written page. This ensures that your data remains unchanged, and when shared, it retains its authenticity and security. However, moving the entire internet on a chain is daunting, as it would require changes to its infrastructure.


In an economy where our information is currency, we must find innovative solutions to protect our privacy. Data ownership emphasizes our inherent right to control, understand, and benefit from our information. It's not just about privacy; it's about ensuring fairness in a world where data is currency. Our data should not be shared without our consent, nor should companies be able to profit from our data without distributing some of those earnings to us. That's why Cyder is on a mission to challenge the status quo and make the internet where you own and get compensated for your data.

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