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Who Owns Your Social Data? You Do, Sort of 110

eweekhickins writes "Mad about Facebook's treatment of Robert Scoble? 'The idea for people to move their social graph from one service to other is a fabulous benefit,' Wikia co-founder Jimmy Wales told eWEEK. 'To me, it's a benefit to customers. People should be very wary about services that are uptight about that kind of thing in an effort to lock you out of the customer.' The problem is that while the profile data may be yours and yours alone, your address book contains the names and e-mail addresses of your friends, family and business contacts. So who owns the data?"
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Who Owns Your Social Data? You Do, Sort of

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  • by Reality Master 201 ( 578873 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @07:26PM (#21916686) Journal
    Possession is 9 tenths of the law, right? The guy with the disk has the data. Controlling your personal data once it's not on a medium you physically can control access to is about the same impossible problem as DRM.
    • by teasea ( 11940 ) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .loots_t.> on Friday January 04, 2008 @07:45PM (#21916870)
      Possession is 9 tenths of the law, right?

      Nope. It gets repeated often enough, but has no basis in law. It's right up there with "cops gotta tell you they're a cop if you ask them directly."

      Though I suppose being in possession of stolen goods...
    • by TheBlunderbuss ( 852707 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @07:53PM (#21916972)
      I guess the bank owns your money, since they keep it as data in their servers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jdoeii ( 468503 )
        Actually, the bank does own the money you deposit there. When you open an account and deposit the money, the ownership is transferred to the bank. You get a claim against the bank for the amount of the deposit. The bank becomes your debtor, but the actual money is no longer yours.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by KlaymenDK ( 713149 )

        I guess the bank owns your money, since they keep it as data in their servers.

        In a way, they do, yes. For instance, that's how they finance loans: lending your money to someone else, asking a fee for the service, and paying you a prize for letting them use your money while they hold it for you. They earn their money from the fee/prize discrepancy, but your money is what enables their business in the first place.

        The difference is that money can't be copied without incurring a loss of value, but information can, and indeed may thereby increase in value. ...There's "just" the matter of

    • by imtheguru ( 625011 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @08:38PM (#21917468)
      The contract agreed upon by the two parties will specify who can do what to the data. This is usually a series of Ts and Cs followed by an "I Agree" widget or the like.

      Always read the fine print.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by canuck57 ( 662392 )

        Always read the fine print.

        Yep, and one of the things is we reserve the tight to change it without notice. Gotta love that.

      • If it is in the US, I have no idea. But if it is in EU, there is this slightly interesting bit of data protection, which gives me a right of checking, correcting and deleting any personal data retained on their server. Meaning if I would leave such an european service for another , I can ask them to delete the data, and they HAVE to do it by law. Whatever the contract said, since the contract has to respect the european data protection law, and cannot nullify a law.
      • by houghi ( 78078 )
        Not always. If I put a gun to your head and say "sign this contract or you will die", I will not become the owner. It is called extortion.

        It becomes more difficult if they say: sign this or you will get no medical treatment. Sign this, or you do not get a drivers licence. Sign this, or you do not get a free pencil.

        The line between extortion and a deal where both parties benefit can be very thing and I do not know where the line is.
    • Possession makes some sense in absence of law, but law is designed to balance possesion with other issues. A thief may *control* your expensive HiFi set after a burglary because they now *possess* it, but they don't *own* it according to law.

  • You own information you created, end of story. If i don't own my personal address book, then no one has the right to own any IP. I'm guessing no one wants to open THAT can o worms?
    • by garcia ( 6573 )
      Actually, the marketers that are scanning those networks own you and your data. Unless you show absolutely nothing, to no one, they are collecting something about you and those you are connected to.

      If you aren't showing any data to anyone then you belong to a social networking site for no reason.
      • by cmacb ( 547347 )

        If you aren't showing any data to anyone then you belong to a social networking site for no reason.

        Actually I suspect a lot of people just try it out of curiosity. I did. That's how I found out about Gmail several years ago and I've been using it ever since.

        With Facebook though, I tried it, and partially because of security concerns quickly concluded the whole concept (and implementation) sucked. Fortunately I hadn't provided much information during the sign-up, and most of what I did provide was fake.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You own information you created, end of story.

      You have something in common with the RIAA - you believe that IP rights are absolute, regardless of whether the owner of the IP wishes to benefit from the distribution of the information. The problem arises when you choose to copy the information that's in your personal address book to a place outside of your personal address book. I don't think the situation remains as simple as you think it does if you choose to do that.
    • Ownership isn't necessarily a useful concept when you're talking about information, compared to what actions you're capable of doing with information and what actions are appropriate or polite to do with it.

      I think the "ownership" that's being asserted here is Facebook asserting that it owns the data about friend relationships and friend email and can limit what users like Scoble can do with it, and that it's doing that because it thinks users will be happier that way than if anybody can do anything they wa

  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @07:34PM (#21916766)
    You may "own the data" but you don't control the version of the server software that hosts, accesses, and manipulates that data. If decides to implement super nifty web 3.0 whizzy stuff that is not compatible with your OS or browser, then your data is no longer accessible to you. Sure, you can complain bitterly about the "upgrade" but if you use a minority OS or browser, your complaints won't get too far. The lack of client-level version control is a real problem with social networks and other web-based software concepts.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    with the invalidated markup slashdot is spitting out, I can post anything I want and noone will see it. So I own my data.

    I like microsoft
    I sometimes enjoy watching pornographic movies with no females in them
    Sometimes I dream about Jack Thompson
    • I sometimes enjoy watching pornographic movies with no females in them

      Sometimes I dream about Jack Thompson

      Curse you! I am never going to get that picture out of my brain. This is worse than goatse.
  • Who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Matt Perry ( 793115 ) <perry.matt54@[ ] ['yah' in gap]> on Friday January 04, 2008 @07:37PM (#21916794)

    Mad about Facebook's treatment of Robert Scoble?
    Nope, because I don't know who he is or how he was treated. How about a better summary so people know what you are talking about?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      He is slightly less an attention whore than Jimmy Jimbo Porno Wales. Scoble made 5,000 "friends" on facebook, which begs the question, who the fuck would befriend such a douchebag? (And I use "btc" correctly here.) And then Scoble tried to move his 5,000 friends' data, not his data, but THEIR data to a different site. In response facebook defaced Scoble and Porno Wales edited an exciting entry all about.

      Together they are all damage and my Internet routes around them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zenslug ( 542549 ) *
      Here's his wikipedia link: []

      "Scoble is best known for his popular blog, Scobleizer, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technical evangelist at Microsoft."

      According to a blog on the NYTimes: []

      "Mr. Scoble was kicked off of Facebook because he used a preview version of a Plaxo service that logged onto his Facebook account to download the names and e-mail addresses of his friends."

    • Re:Who? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ubernostrum ( 219442 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @10:07PM (#21918318) Homepage

      Scoble is a somewhat-famous blogger. He became known in that community a few years back when he was working for Microsoft; he was considered unusual in that he was a "company spokesman" who didn't speak in press releases, and openly criticized Microsoft from time to time. He's since moved on to starting his own company which does some sort of video podcasting thing.

      The story in question here is that he got himself banned from Facebook by using a beta version of a program which was designed to log into your account and start screen-scraping out your friends' info, theoretically for purposes of slurping it into an email addressbook or whatever. Facebook indicated that this violated their terms of service and gave him the boot. He proceeded to raise a stink about how he couldn't get "his" data out of Facebook. He was alternately the subject of sympathy (from people who like him and/or dislike Facebook) and scorn (from people who wondered how exactly someone else's personal info was "his").

      • by lbft ( 950835 )
        It's important to also note that Facebook itself does this kind of screen scraping.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by viggie ( 1198131 )
        As for arguing the reasons of ban. I think any free service will have a clause that says something like,
        "... reserves the right to ban / terminate any member account without assigning any reason whatsoever".

        I looked up in Facebook terms page. Sure enough, it exists under the heading 'Termination'. Hard to argue after accepting this condition.

        • Yeah, right, everyone carefully reads those.

          Whenever I see an "I Accept" bullshit llicense thing, I consider it null and void. Because it needlessly interrupts the flow of the process of whatever it is I'm doing. Registering on a web site? No strings attached. I DON'T accept their terms and conditions. If they kick me, well, it's their server, they can do that. I don't trust them, anyway, so my info is fake. Installing a program? Well, I interpret the "I Agree" button as meaning "I allow this package to be
          • Whenever I see an "I Accept" bullshit llicense thing, I consider it null and void.

            How you personally "consider it" is irrelevant as far as your legal position goes. The only relevant issue- rightly or wrongly- is how a court would see it.

            Of course, if you "consider it null and void" because it seems obviously legally unsound, that's understandable. But bear in mind that the things that many people here think they "know" about the law (or how a court would see things) is wrong.

    • RTFA
  • by christopherfinke ( 608750 ) <> on Friday January 04, 2008 @07:39PM (#21916810) Homepage Journal
    After the whole Robert Scoble fiasco, I wrote a Firefox extension [] that saves the data from your Facebook friends' profiles (including their e-mail addresses) in CSV format as you view them so that you can import that data into other mail clients or social networks.
    • by rHBa ( 976986 )
      Wow, I wasn't aware you could do OCR within a firefox plugin... respect!
    • I did something similar. I wrote a tool, Rolodexterous [], that makes Facebook into a read/write contact manager: use the info FB has or add your own. Export it if you like, dhare it w/ friends based on your social graph, etc. Visually it is like Excel embedded into FB.
    • by yoden ( 762145 )
      Why use a scraper for this at all? Are you accessing data that the Facebook API doesn't let you or... what? Using the API, you can download the information for all of your friends (anything they haven't disabled using privacy settings) in about 10 seconds. And you can do this several hundred times a day (as my senior project proved...).
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @07:46PM (#21916880)
    The answer to "Who Owns Your Social Data?" is in the question itself. It's like asking..."Who owns your shirt?" Of course me. I repeat...I own my property. Period.

    I am getting disappointed with the way Slashdot frames questions. The other day, they ran [] whose contents in my opinion were not in sync with the title. May be these Slashdot folks need a refresher course.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The answer to "Who Owns Your Social Data?" is in the question itself. It's like asking..."Who owns your shirt?" Of course me. Of course me. I repeat...I own my property. Period.

      Well that's a great example because you actually don't have full ownership to your clothes: Got a Nike or Diesel Sweeties t-shirt? Yeah, that single shirt is yours, but you don't own it enought to make more of them.

      'Who Owns Your Social Data?' has similar legal grey area, sort of like copyrighting national laws based on giving them a

    • It's like asking..."Who owns your shirt?" Of course me. I repeat...I own my property. Period.

      Way to miss the point. The issue is, is your data (data about you and/or data provided by you) your property?

      The fact that something may be "yours" in one usage, does not mean that it is your property, that you own it. Consider "your wife", "your child", "your liver", "your poem", "your likeness", or "your apartment". Other people are not your property; your relationship to your body transcends property; poems

    • The answer to "Who Owns Your Social Data?" is in the question itself. It's like asking..."Who owns your shirt?" Of course me. I repeat...I own my property. Period.

      Do you, or does the people represented by the data own the data? As TFA says "The problem is that while the profile data may be yours and yours alone, your address book contains the names and e-mail addresses of your friends, family and business contacts." Those people should be able to control that data. Unless I have the ok of whoever is r

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @08:03PM (#21917084) Homepage
    The question is devoid of meaning. No one owns data.
  • (an edited rendition of my response to the Techdirt [] article on this same topic)

    One citizen's relationship to another, and the rules by which that relationship (and its details) are made available to some subset of the world, must exist outside any specific social network, tool, or other Web site.

    Social network sites should offer "individually calibrated privacy controls", which should encompass who should see what information, and not just within a

  • by compumike ( 454538 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @08:12PM (#21917180) Homepage
    The real question shouldn't be "who owns the data", but should we encourage webapp providers to create an easy mechanism for import and exporting data? For some webapps it's a no brainer, when it's only one individual's data and there's a great convenience in being able to move formats. But in other cases, such as Facebook, you have to weigh one individual's desire for privacy against others' convenience. That is, while people do share their e-mail address, IM contact info, and sometimes even cell phone numbers, it's hard to believe that they did so with the intention of being sold to marketers or ripped into some other database. That's why Facebook has put e-mail addresses into images for a long time -- it defeats some fraction of potential abusers. So where's the balance?

    Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. []
    • by justfred ( 63412 )
      (beginner Facebook developer here) Email addresses aren't available to applications either, tho most of the other information you enter is.

      I'd really like to see an interchange format (assumably XML) where I can choose to share or not share my "friends" with social networking sites as I choose, rather than having the data locked on their servers.
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @08:19PM (#21917274) Homepage Journal
    If you go into a store and use one of the affinity cards, the details of the transaction can be stored, collated, and sold. The store can offer to sell you much or your order at cost because the store in no longer in the retail business, but in the data trading business.

    If you buy on credit, a record is kept of everything you buy and when you bought it. Remember all those figures about christmas sales. Many of those come from mastercard. Retailers and analysts will pay money for the breakdown of those sales. Do you get compensated for you data? Only in the way that if you have good credit the companies can afford to give you money for free.

    So, all facebook and most social networking sites are free. Users voluntarily put huge amounts of data on themselves. What do you expect to happen? The companies just to sit on such a gold mine and not exploit it? It is just like those forms you fill out to win a free car or a free gym membership. These are not given out the goodness of someone's heart. No, they want something, to get a phone number, to change your phone company, to get you in the gym so they can pressure you into a membership.

    I understand that the kids do not understand that they are being taken for a ride by using these sites, and most adults are not sophisticated enough with computers to understand the scam either. But the rules of the world don't change just because the medium changes. Facebook and myspace have to make a profit and in the age of computers profits are made by those who have the most data and can organize and sell it. If you don't believe me just look at google. These social networking firms provide a service, and in exchange they expect to get huge amounts of data they can sell to make a profit. Maybe it was not that way in the beginning, but now they are corporate, and corporate is reality.

    • Overall you made some very good points, but the last jab at "most adults are not sophisticated enough with computers to understand the scam either" raised a few hairs on the back of my neck.
      Being one of those adults, I understand quite well how social networking sites make money, no one gets a free lunch. I also understand that for some modern conveniences (which is what these types of services fall under), some privacy loss has to be accepted. The line for what is acceptable in that regard is drawn at di
  • On-line communities are powerful places to be. Just look at Markos Moulitsas [] (video warning), the founder of the Daily Kos political blog. What started out as a rant against conservative thinking back in 2002 has now become THE place for Democrats to hang out. Jimmy Carter, Teddy Kennedy, Russ Feingold, Nancy Pelosi, and lots of other Democratic leaders have now posted comments on that website, which runs on all Free Open Source Software tools, according to the above-linked interview with Markos.

    So if you want to be a participant in the power of on-line communities, maybe you are going to have to give up a wee bit of privacy, depending on the community. But look what you get in return: influence and fun. By contrast, those who do not want to participate risk losing relevance, which is one example of the tragedy of the anti-commons []. If you are not willing to share something, then just stay off line. Most communities will require you to give *something* to participate: your thinking, some personal information, *something*. Same thing for communities in the physical world. You have to join a group and shake a few hands to participate in the group.
  • We don't need central repositories like facebook to have social networks. We can do it ourselves in a distributed fashion. Here's how: Friends in Feed [].
  • kinda irrelevant who 'owns' the data.

    FaceBook have it now and you can bet your metaphorical hat that they will use it to gain any revenue, business advantage, or advertisement that they can by fair means or foul.

    who owns the data? as if the Internet played fair and said "sorry! my mistake" and coughed it up? yeah right.

    You want your data from them, then be prepared to claw it out of their cold, dead hands. after taking Beacon and shoving it so far...

  • One more time... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rastoboy29 ( 807168 ) * on Friday January 04, 2008 @08:33PM (#21917418) Homepage
    It's VOLUNTARY.  When you give your information up to a web site, you are giving them a gift of information.  You can't control it after you've copied it over to them any more than the RIAA can control the dissemination of "their" strings of bytes.
    • Amen, Brotha! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tony ( 765 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @08:40PM (#21917496) Journal
      The whole concept of data ownership is flawed. You can't "own" data. You can have the government back you up when people do something with your data, but that's not "ownership." That's bullying.

      Scott McNealy was right when he said privacy was dead. It's not because we *shouldn't* have privacy. It's because it's impossible. Computers gave us the ability to store, index, and access more data than ever before. If you want the benefits, you have to accept the drawbacks. The only thing we can do is mitigate the effects by social agreements. However, social agreements are weak at best, so we have to accept it.

      It all comes down to one thing:


      You might be able to keep it secret for a time, but you can't own it.
      • Practice is not the same as theory. It's impossible to maintain control of your data in practice, but that doesn't mean that you don't own it... just that you can't control it. You still have the right to try, because it's your damn data.
      • Of course you can own. Don't give it out. Keep it locked in a safe forever. However, once you let it out...well, then the genie's out of the bottle.

        Music is data
        Art is data
        Novels are data
        Games are data
        Source code is data

        All these things can be owned, sold, borrowed and stolen under our current laws. The reason for the high valuation of Facebook is because they have aggregated a huge amount of data, and are looking to make money from it. They quite literally own the social lives of some of their customers, as set out in the terms of agreement which let those customers use their server. Call me old-fashioned, but I wouldn't trust a sl

      • "The whole concept of data ownership is flawed. You can't "own" data. You can have the government back you up when people do something with your data, but that's not "ownership." That's bullying."

        ALL PROPERTY RIGHT are a form of "bullying" by the local government. THINK about it. If the local government was not bullying everybody in recognizing your own property right, including your home, your car, and your "life", then ANYBODY could steal/kill it from you at any moment, kick you out of your car/house a
  • The question of data ownership is an interesting one, especially in the light of the Facebook thing. (not entirely understanding why Facebook is so popular with most on /.)

    However... what does this have to do with Jumbo Wales? Is he just doing his usual self-promotion and getting his name onto everything this week to promote his new Volkssearchmachine? Seems like a little virally timed to me... he is somewhat expert in viral promotions...

    Come to think on it though, he does sell off chunks of other pe
    • "Come to think on it though, he does sell off chunks of other people's Wikipedia contributions to commercial sites. That certainly does raise a data ownership issue he should be questioned about..."

      Actually, when you post stuff to Wikipedia, you agree to license your contribution to wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License, so Wales can do pretty much as he likes. You gave him (and every other viewer for that matter) the right to do so when you posted.

      One of those "read the fine print" deals, tha
  • by Malevolent Tester ( 1201209 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @08:45PM (#21917534) Journal
    I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Facebook fanatics? I've been sitting here in my parent's basement in front of a Mac for about 20 minutes now trying to find a 16 year old girl to stalk. 20 minutes. Normally, on Myspace, which by all standards should be a lot slower than Facebook, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

    In addition, during this search, Netscape will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt.

    I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while searching Facebook, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a stalkee who has replied faster than her Myspace counterpart, despite Facebook's much vaunted messaging service. The old Yahoo chatrooms are faster than this Web 2.0 newcomer at times. From a creepy old man standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Facebook is a superior website.

    Facebook addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use Facebook over other faster, cheaper, more stable sites.
    • by xaxa ( 988988 )
      "All my friends use it"
      That's the only reason I use it. It was cool for a few days when I first got it and saw some pictures of people I knew.

      I haven't tried finding people to stalk, that's not why I signed up. Someone sort-of stalked me: he read everything he could access on my profile, and looked at all the photos; then he found me in a bar near my university (by chance, I think) and introduced himself. After he'd told me all about myself I pretty much told him to fuck off and I changed the privicy set
      • by novakyu ( 636495 )

        "All my friends use it"
        And I want to tell them how bad Facebook is, and the best way to do that is through Facebook (use their infernal News Feed against them!).
  • Wrong question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Friday January 04, 2008 @08:55PM (#21917630) Homepage

    This isn't a question of who owns the data. Scoble owns the data. It's a question of who controls access to the servers the data's stored on and the services used by the owner to retrieve the data. Scoble doesn't control those, Facebook does. And he's just found out the downside of that. Lesson: don't place your only copy of critical information under the sole control of someone else.

  • Missed the point (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The description and the article seem to be at odds. The article is actually talking about how facebook has an automated script that halts others automated scripts attempting to data mine facebook. Do you want someone data-mining your facebook account? I sure don't, so thank you Facebook.

    This isn't a question of someone "owning" the data. It's a question of protecting data from dataminers. At no point does Facebook try to claim ownership of any data in this article, they are trying to protect the data f
  • Slashdot will ban you for doing exactly the same thing Scoble (well, the social network/whatever they called it) did. Go on, try using wget to crawl a story's comment thread, or hit the feeds more than once every two hours.

    Hell, Slashdot bans you if you get modded down too much in too short a period of time, even if you get modded back up...that was cute.

  • Everyone knows the Federation owns Data!
  • The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.

  • Now I am sure this has been said before, because it seems pretty obvious to me... but the only data Scobel can even claim to own, in this strange metaphysical concept of owning we seem to be discussing, is the data he entered into the site - i.e. his own email, address, and the like. If anyone OWNS the data he was collecting, it would be those friends whose profiles he was harvesting from. Now, he could argue that he owns the 'data' that represents that he is friends with these people, but certainly not t
  • I am growing sick of these juvenile debates. Scobie and everyone else went to the Facebook site, filled in a registration form then clicked to accept the Terms and Conditions. What is left to debate? Nothing!

    Don't want to let Facebook know your phone number? Don't sign up!

    Want to use Facebook but still don't want to let Facebook know your phone number? Sign up with a one time Hotmail address and then don't fill in any of the personal data!

    For God's sake people, this is not rocket science.

    • Facebook should give me the choice, like they do wih many other areas of privacy, of whether or not I allow my friends in different networks to use software to export information about me from Facebook. The obvious thing to choose is "yes". Why else would I have joined the site and filled out the profile forms if I didn't want to provide this information for my friends to use? Even if Facebook somehow wrapped their entire site in DRM, they still couldn't stop someone from taking a pencil and paper and writi
      • by vux984 ( 928602 )
        Why else would I have joined the site and filled out the profile forms if I didn't want to provide this information for my friends to use?

        Most people I associate with only have a facebook account because it was the only way to see their nieces wedding photos, or to rsvp to a family gathering, or some nonsense like that. They didn't WANT their own profile, they didn't WANT to provide any information for their friends to use, and they most certainly had no interest whatsoever providing any information for fac
  • Facebook allows you to import your friends from Gmail, Yahoo, and the like, but Facebook's terms of service forbid you from using similar tools to export your Facebook friends to another website. If you try to use software to do this, Facebook may deactivate your account. We must demand that Facebook allow us to use tools to take the data gleaned from our social connections that we've entered here and, with our friends consent, export it however and wherever we wish. If you agree and are on Facebook, join []
  • Question though, if what is controlled is the server, and not the information, what is to stop someone using a Firefox plugin to grab their own data back.

  • Some people are posting that you cannot own your data. That depends on what data you are talking about in the first place. Let's be specific.

    Intellectual Property owners clearly own their data. A common man is no different. He owns his data as well. Any data he creates himself he owns solely. He also maintains numerous rights, under various licensing agreements, to data owned by other entities. His music, movies, books, etc.

    A better question is.... Does one own data they voluntarily give to the governm
  • The concept of "owning" any kind of information once you've given it out is certifiably insane. You might be the creator, but bottom line is once you've given it away (i.e. storing it with something you have little to no control over) the best you can be to that little tidbit of data is a viewer, maintainer, or, if you're very lucky, administrator.

    I think most people simply have a problem of mapping physical things (where there's a relatively easy means to establish ownership) to meta-physical things. If
  • Could someone explain this phrase, "social graph"? I haven't run into this before. And what is "your social graph" versus someone else's? Is it just your set of friends? What would it mean to move your social graph to another service, if the friends there are different or have different names?
  • Marshall Kirkpatrick [] posted an interesting article on the subject (and actually a day before the whole Facebook-scoble story)

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington