Information Owner

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Full Title

For the purposed of this Identity Management article the term owner will apply to some real-world legal entity as represented by some digital Identifier.

Context

  • The term owner comes from the middle-English word ownen meaning to possess or to take possession of.[1]
  • The closely associate term "owner's risk" should teach us that with ownership comes risk of loss.
  • Any entity can Claim ownership. This claim was originally backed up by force of arms, but as society became more civilized, the claims were registered by some sovereign entity and thereby accepted by a court of law. The term possession is nine tenths of law was coined to recognize that it is still possible to convince a court that you own something because you possess it.
  • Copyrights and patents were introduced into law to allow people to take possession of "ideas" or "expressions". The meaning of this right is still litigated on a daily basis; especially in countries where digital rights have become of such great value.

Problem

  • It has been true until the Information Age that when you purchase a product, and take it home, that you own that copy and can dispose if it as you wish. Now we have a digital Ecosystem that allows distributors of content to repossess it whenever that want. While the concept has not be fully tested in a court of law, Amazon was able to reach into user's devices and remove a copy of the novel "1984" that users had purchased and taken possession of.[2]
  • John Deere has sold their new line of tractors with software locks that prevent the "owner" of the tractor from repairing it, even when they are located a great distance from a repair center, which is enabled to charge whatever they wish for the repair. Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced (2091-03) a bill that would "empower frames to repair their equipment".[2]

Solution

  • The Blockchain implementations of money and smart contracts has enable ownership to be assigned to a digital key as represented by a Decentralized ID. Since this sort of ownership cannot be revoked by aggrieved parties, by sovereign legal systems or other arbiters, it is not clear that it will ever be accepted as is the current method of ownership by registration with some sovereign entity.

References

  1. Webster, Third New International Dictionary. (1964) G & C Merriam Co
  2. 2.0 2.1 Zeyner Tufenci, Owned. Wired (2019-06) No 2706 pp. 18-20