UC Irvine Journal of International, Transnational, and Comparative Law


In this Article, I will review the origins of data protection laws and reestablish the concept of “data surveillance” as the primary evil that data protection laws should try to abate. From this review, I discover a transnational principle that strong data protection laws are must-haves for all jurisdictions wishing to protect privacy for their people, but that data protection laws should not be applied to data that have been made publicly available through legitimate process. I then find legislative examples embodying such principle. Next, I will look at “scientific research” exemptions from data subjects’ control on pseudonymized data, and using GDPR’s exemption as an example, will demonstrate that ownership-like control by data subjects is not absolute. Finally, I will examine the possibility and morality of data socialism whereby data (including personal data) are regulated as public goods or infrastructure like scenery, sunlight, air, etc., and whereby data silos are replaced by a data commons for the benefit of all. “Data socialism” is proposed despite its negative connotation among contemporaries intentionally in order to highlight the libertarian pitfalls of the mechanistic application of data protection law.