Edited by Anne S.Y. Cheung and Rolf H. Weber
Chapter 7: Information in the cloud: ownership, control and accountability
Cloud users, and those whose information is processed by cloud users, are naturally concerned that they might somehow lose their legal rights to information once it enters the cloud. They are also concerned, or at least ought to be concerned, about who has the rights in the metadata and other information which cloud service providers generate about, and by using, that information. But a focus on rights may not be the best way to address this issue. Copyright and the law of confidential information establish quite clearly who possesses the rights, and use of the cloud does not usually upset rights ownership. What the cloud does do, is to change radically the control which a rights owner has over the use and disclosure of information. To some extent this is a matter which can be addressed in contracts, but building a contractual framework which incorporates all the necessary cloud players is cumbersome and difficult. This chapter will suggest that most of these control problems are more appropriately resolved through cloud community norms, incorporated in appropriate governance mechanisms, and through accountability on the part of cloud actors about how information will be and has been used. The concept of ownership is deeply embedded in human psychology. So important is it that individuals tend to place a higher value on things that they already own than on identical objects which they do not, the so-called ‘endowment effect’.
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