Case Studies

The Principles have been established to be applicable to real-world legal problems that arise from the data economy every day. We have gathered some examples of the issues the Principles for a Data Economy are trying to solve.

Case Study 1: Smart Tractors

Farm corporation F buys a ‘smart’ tractor which has been manufactured by manufacturer M and which provides various precision farming services, including weather forecasts, soil analyses and targeted recommendations concerning the use of particular fertilizers and insecticides. M also uses the soil and weather data collected by the tractor to create a database that could be sold to potential buyers of farmland, providing extensive details about the land in order to enable them to make a more-informed choice on the price they would be willing to pay for farmland. When F learns about this database, F immediately requests M to stop using F’s data for this purpose.

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In the following video, Project Reporter Christiane Wendehorst explains which problems may arise with connected vehicles like smart tractors and which rights actors like F and M could have in this specific constellation.

Case Study 2: Sale of Gaming Data

Business S supplies an online video game and holds a broad range of personal data from users playing that game, much of which is protected under data privacy regimes such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). S ‘sells’ the data of 20,000 users to data analytics business B, which, let us assume, is in conformity with the relevant data privacy regimes (because those users have given consent or failed to click the ‘Do not sell my data’ button). Shortly after the data was transferred to B, 5,000 users from the EU withdraw their consent to the processing of the data. As a reaction, B demands a return of 25% of the price paid to S, arguing that B was unaware of users having a right to withdraw their consent, and that B did not receive what it paid for under the contract. The agreement between S and B is silent on this matter.

Case Study 3: Vehicle Data

Business T produces tires that are supplied to car manufacturer C and mounted on cars that are ultimately to be sold to end users such as E. Data concerning the tires are generated in the course of mounting of the tires by C (eg the robot mounting the tires tests the properties of the rubber) and in the course of E driving the car (eg the car sensors collect data on how well tires adapt to weather conditions and road surfaces and how quickly the tires’ treads wear off). All of this data is sent to and stored on cloud servers controlled by D under a contract with C. 

Access to that data would enable T to improve tire performance. Accordingly, T seeks access to the data concerning its tires. C and D decline to grant such access because D is considering developing smart services utilizing the data and does not want anyone else to develop the same services, and C considers producing tires itself at some point in the future and wants to have a competitive edge over T.

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The Project Reporters have written detailed comments on these case studies, explaining how the Principles could help to deal with these real-life scenarios in the data economy. The commented case studies can be found here.