- May 2021
There’s many examples around the world of communities banding together to collectively govern a shared resource, like forestry, grazing grounds, and wells.
If we all take action to do these things collectively, then it isn't a "tax" on any individual or corporation.
For example, we know one of the ways to make people care about negative externalities is to make them pay for it; that’s why carbon pricing is one of the most efficient ways of reducing emissions. There’s no reason why we couldn’t enact a data tax of some kind. We can also take a cautionary tale from pricing externalities, because you have to have the will to enforce it. Western Canada is littered with tens of thousands of orphan wells that oil production companies said they would clean up and haven’t, and now the Canadian government is chipping in billions of dollars to do it for them. This means we must build in enforcement mechanisms at the same time that we’re designing principles for data governance, otherwise it’s little more than ethics-washing.
Building in pre-payments or a tax on data leaks to prevent companies neglecting negative externalities could be an important stick in government regulation.
While it should apply across the board, it should be particularly onerous for for-profit companies.