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Art by Sam Lessin
Modest Proposals
Policy

The Cost and Risk of Regulations That Make Information ‘Own-able’

Photo: Art by Sam Lessin

The internet is forcing us to engage with a far broader definition of the economy than in the past. Instead of thinking of the economy primarily in terms of physical goods and services, the internet is putting front and center a fuller picture of the economy—including other forms of value and trade, such as information and social, moral and even sexual capital.

I believe you can trace many of the political and social challenges we face today back to our expanding awareness of—and ability to measure—the size of the broader economy. In particular, debates about who “owns” data, the right to be forgotten and privacy regulations can easily be seen effectively as a debate about how to value information and formally assign its ownership. So too can a lot of the consternation about the scale and size of internet companies that have large amounts of this previously under-appreciated data-as-asset.

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