In all the recurring debate abouot breaking up facebook or making all data a commons or whatever, my point is quite easily summarized with a simple slogan
make my data mine
that I would really love to seeing emerge.
Remember Hal Varian recently argued data is non rival and only partially excludable. This implies that a way to protect user data is that a silos collects and holds it and provides authenticated access to it. Thus implying that Google’s and the likes is somewhat a ‘natural’ consequence.
thanks to lockins and network effects, this leads to monopolistic/monopsonistic effects.
monopolistic power in the intermediation may artificially alter the equilibrium in the value chain, making markets fail.
the vast possibility of targeting a specific single user with the “best” personalized content/offer thanks to the detailed knowledge of a each specific person, has deep impacts on the economy and the socio-political spheres (think of filter bubbles and the related fake news phenomenon).
but cryptography can make data rival and excludable.
Rivality and Excludability are the basis of private property, and, as I explained in my last two books, making my data mine implies bringing private property to data. And cryptography can make private date stay private (it can be very friendly, privacy-wise).
today we have a feudalistic system, with info-plutocrats ammassing and exploiting vast amount of our data, as I argued in “intermediated of the world, unite”
breaking up a company by antitrust is a last resort but will not prevent the possibility that monopolies quickly form again. (and there may be many other negative externalities I will write (hopefully) soon).
the concept of making data private, with the underlying implicit idea of still having the possibility of using online service, implies the need for interoperability, interconnection and portability of data.
we already have data portability provisions in the european data pivacy regulations (GDPR).
we need to give regulators the possibility to impose interoperability and interconnection obligations to companies with Significant Market Power (and the power to inspect the interfaces and, in the case of misbehavior, sanction them with the strongest possible means) and let the market generate alternatives and innovate.
we now have the technology(ies) to make data private.
it’s a political decision. EU legislators, please make my data mine!.