Who owns your data?

Graduate student Frederico Zannier has recorded a comprehensive data set about himself (mostly internet usage related) and is offering it for sale via a Kickstarter project. A $2 pledge gets you a single days worth of data (hat tip to the FlowingData blog for the original story)

I don't think this to be a serious business proposition, rather the intention is to raise the issue of ownership of data. As Frederico points out, other people are making money out of his data so why shouldn't he?

This is something that should be of at least passing interest to all of us. Who owns data about us? Who is making money out of that data? Are we comfortable with the uses to which that data is put by those that assert ownership over it via the Terms and Conditions we never read but always agree to when signing up for internet services?

Most, after a couple of drinks, would insist that they own the data about themselves held by various internet companies, or at the very least that they should have a right of access to that data. But in reality we've given up rights to that data.

When it comes to giving data to Google or Facebook many argue that we receive our payment for that data in the form of better targeted services and adverts. After all, these companies have to make money somehow and although we like like to kid ourselves that we're Google customers, most of us realise that we are really Google's product (or at least data about us is) which they exchange for money from their real customers, the advertisers.

But maybe Frederico is on to something. Perhaps, with the right tools to record our own activities and a sufficiently powerful supplier aggregation service, individuals could make a bit of cash selling their own data to companies who want to use it for modelling and forecasting purposes? It would fit in rather well with the current quantified-self trend. Now that's a Kickstarter project!