Skip to content

Recalibrating the Data Economy:

Towards a System of Access and Benefit Sharing

Yannick Alexander Vogel


Keywords: data economy, sustainable data sharing, data driven development

This article discusses a challenge in the developing data economy. Since data is a valuable resource that can be easily extracted from individuals, its aggregation has led to concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few. At the same time, official authorities are increasingly relying on data to further goals of public interests and increasingly purchase data from private actors in order to aid them. This trend raises concerns about the appropriation of freely appropriable resource data and the sale thereof back to communities from which the data was originally appropriated. A situation similar to what has previously been seen in the field of bio-piracy law. To address this challenge, the paper suggests drawing inspiration from the historical exploitation of the Global South for their resources and the development of the ‘Access and Benefit Sharing’ system, which curtailed resource exploitation. The current European efforts in digital regulation, such as the European Data Strategy and the Digital Services Act package, do not sufficiently reflect the notion of access and benefit sharing, which is a missed opportunity in the regulatory strategy on data. The article identifies parallels between elements of an access and benefit sharing system and several sections of novel legislation flowing from the European Strategy for Data and the Digital Services Act package. The article finally argues that the similarities between the historical exploitation of resources and the current data buying practices of official authorities are not so different in nature, as both lead to repetitive economic disadvantages for communities with little to no effective economic claim to their resources. A system of access and benefit sharing in the data economy could help improve its sustainability and mitigate the exploitation of communities worldwide for their collective data.
Keywords: data economy, sustainable data sharing, data driven development

Dr.iur. Yannick Alexander Vogel, legal researcher. For correspondence: <>. Author’s note: my gratitude goes out to Massimo Durante, Ezgi Uysal and three anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this article. All remaining errors remain my own. Views are strictly my own and do not represent the views of any organisation or institution.


Lx-Number Search

(e.g. A | 000123 | 01)

Export Citation