Data Ownership and Governance – Finnish Law Perspective

Seppälä TimoJuhanko JariMattila Juri


As a general rule, information and data cannot be owned. Information and data may belong to various actors, but they cannot be owned in the legislative sense. Information can, however, be managed. The most natural view of information and data management is that the actor is the one who owns the device and the service where the information and data are. The ownership of a device or service is the default situation of data management when no contractual arrangements or the like have been made. In this case, the owner of the device and service usually have a natural ability to prevent others from accessing the data by preventing access to the device or service.

Within the freedom of contract, it can be specified who data belongs to, what kinds of access rights there are to the data, whether they are exclusive, parallel, etc. It is aimed at agreements between parties on the ownership of data and use restrictions even when no one owns the data and only restrictions on any contractual partner. The restriction of contract comes, however, from the fact that the contract cannot be binding on a third party. In the end, the contractual policies between the actors will define the relative strengths of information and data ownership between parties, for example how the ownership of information and data will be established in the autonomous smart device and service entities of the future.

Publication info

Results of research
Work and Wealth in the Era of Digital Platforms
Research group
Business renewal
ETLA Muistio - ETLA Brief 71
Data ownership, data governance, Finnish law
K1, K12, K2, L89