Data ownership – who's got it? Should we care? - Carnectiv

Data ownership – who’s got it? Should we care?

I think connected car data ownership is going to become a big deal, do you?

All this diagnostic data collected by car technology today is great – isn’t it? How well we drive, when the tyre pressure is low, when the next service is due and so on – and it can only get better (more of it, more detailed, more insightful, more intelligent, better pattern recognition, prediction etc). Data will be collected on our mileage, our fuel consumption, service history, our location. Many models already have these systems installed and, from October 2015, all newly developed cars will have to incorporate some of this in the eCall safety system.
So what is going to happen to all this data collected by those little “black boxes” and more importantly, who owns it?

OEMs seeking to assert data ownership rights?

It looks like the car manufacturers want it, with Jaguar Land Rover going first with a legal contract that the car buyer signs if they want the enhanced package of connected services. Are other car manufacturers going to follow? I would guess if they believe there is a chance to make some money out of it, they will. So selling the data on is a possibility and to a wide range of buyers – organizations we may prefer didn’t have this information.

Contesting rights

But let’s look more closely at the players who might want to contest the OEMs right to exclusive data ownership. For a start, as we are already hinting, the user or driver might object. In the same way as “privacy” has become a major topic in some countries more than others (eg in Germany, just look at Google Streetview’s history), connected car data may become a hot topic becoming a perceived “black mark” against the car which has it. And then maybe the telcos, whose connectivity enables the data transmission: aren’t they always so fastidious about customer billing, records, custodianship and data “ownership”? And how about the app developer/provider…and their servers, their subscription databases….and iTunes….and AppStore or Market…and all of their partners most of us give permission to via acceptance of the Terms of Business? If most of us count the number of apps, subscriptions, dataflows, permitted partner marketing and the like currently active by virtue of our current smartphone usage (and granted permissions) we will be well into double digit relationships with businesses who “own” “our” data. Some of us may have hundreds of such third party “data owners” accessing data our behavior generates.

“Non-exclusive” data ownership a possibility?

We don’t believe that thinking about “owning” data is very helpful, especially “exclusive ownership”. The fact is, data flows will be varied, many, and growing…and this is the same in a connected car ..or a tethered smartphone to a connected car. There is a many-to-few relationship: i.e. the “many”, many data collectors, owners and users (businesses, service providers and even peers) with contact to the “few” (the “connected car” and any of the devices being used, including tethered smartphones, dongles and tablets, and their respective owners, namely you and me). Many will end up owning the data.
The way forward is to think about data in the context of trading in value and adding to that value. This applies equally to an OEM wanting to create an environment of value for third parties who will then develop for it (iOS/iTunes/Appstore app model), or for any service provider (app developer, OEM, whatever) hoping to be compelling to a user.

Yes, data needs to exist and be possessed before it can be traded. We will blog soon on the topic of open data, data exclusivity, trading and permission marketing. Watch this space.

About Dexter Dex

Dexter is an experienced IT and automotive industry senior manager. Dexter points us at some interesting stories and brings his own perspective on connected car topics. He has worked on recent (and current) major connected car projects, as well as having driven some major partner programmes and digital service start up venturing. Dexter is also heavily involved in many investment and acceleration projects, assisting entrpreneurs and investors achieve their visions and returns on investment.


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