This article explores the status of data subjects in the era of data capitalism. A data subject is a person whose personal data is being collected, held, or processed by data collectors or processors (eg, Amazon, Google, or Facebook). Data-driven companies rely on data subjects offering personal information for training algorithms for services. We maintain that it is time to seriously investigate whether data subjects can be considered as investors. First, we preview our thesis, followed by a functional deﬁnition of an investor. Then, we develop our argument that data subjects are better understood as investors rather than consumers or labor providers by examining the balance sheet impact of a data contribution to the data ﬁrm and the existing legal regime requiring data subjects to retain an ownership interest in their data even after it has been transferred to the data ﬁrm.
Kim, Tae Wan and Lee, Jooho and Xu, Joseph and Routledge, Bryan R, Are Data Subjects Investors? (March 14, 2020). Berkeley Business Law Journal, forthcoming.