Who owns that phone?

by Larry Emmott on June 22, 2011

in Cameras,Future Tech,General,Mobile,Security

The linked article by law professor Glen Reynolds discusses the recent kerfuffle with Apple possibly attempting to control the use of iPhone video.

It also raises a question of ownership. When Americans buy an iPhone or other gadget, we tend to think that, since we paid for it, we actually, you know, own it. But the attitude of phone and media companies is somewhat different.

There is a lot in the article about the impact of ubiquitous video and the danger of totalitarian governments limiting the use of the Internet. However I found it interesting on another level that I think is a big deal yet is rarely discussed. Who owns the data?

The amazing features of digital data that make it so useful and powerful, such as ease of use, rapid access and instantaneous transfer also make it susceptible to abuse.

If I have a bunch of patient data stored on my server; do I own it? The data is there because I created it as a byproduct of doing business. As the creator do I own it or does each patient own their own and am I just the custodian? Are patient records and the valuable data they contain intellectual property that I own and control as if I had created a text book or novel?

If I own it, I should be able to exercise the basic rights of ownership including selling the data. However as a dentist I can only sell the data in a very proscribed fashion. I can sell to another dentist buying the practice but I cannot sell to a drug company looking for customers. As a dental professional I am obligated ethically and legally to protect much of the data as confidential.

Even if I sell the data in an acceptable fashion the fact is the buyer is usually restricted in how he or she can access and use the data. Generally the user can only fully access the data using a specific PMS and even then there are lots of limitations.

By the way as an aside you never actually own the PMS software, even if you bought and paid for it, you just own a license to use it.

If I have the data but can’t access parts of it or more commonly can’t transfer parts of it do I really own it?

Back to Apple and the idea that they would create a system that allows a third party to control some aspect of your iPhone.  If they can do that what is there to stop a software provider from embedding code that will only allow you to share data with selected others. For example you could only use selected e-claims companies. Or you could only share a radiograph with a proprietary viewer.

Who owns the data?

via Is Apple seeking to police iphone cameras?–Glenn Reynolds – NYPOST.com.

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