Machine-generated data is a hot commodity, but who owns this information? As more and more valuable data are generated, should there be legislation to establish ownership and, potentially, access rights? The European Commission conducted a public consultation, “Building a European Data Economy,” to find out.

The consultation addressed key factors, such as the question to what extent digital non-personal machine-generated data are traded and exchanged. The Commission also wanted to determine whether the changing technological landscape warrants the formation of an ownership-type right to machine-generated data.

The “Building a European Data Economy” consultation ended in April 2017. The European Commission has not yet released a final report with conclusions, but a preliminary summary was made public. The summary indicates that several participating businesses were concerned over the right to data.

To complicate matters, the GDPR will come into effect in 2018, which specifies an individual “shall have the right to receive the personal data concerning him or her, which he or she has provided to a controller, in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format and have the right to transmit those data to another controller.” According to some, this so-called right to portability extends to data gained by observation. This raises the interesting question: Shall data about the use of an automated car be subject to the driver’s portability right as well as a right to data vested in the manufacturer?

Europe will watch attentively to see how the Commission will take action.

For more information on the “Building a European Data Economy” consultation, visit–summary-report-on-the-right-to-data-consultation.asp?sid=336e2cd1-06ea-4fc1-9720-0ccd04cb03a7