Users of online services generate mountains of data every day. The question of who owns that data has returned to the spotlight this week after two of China’s social media giants – TikTok owner ByteDance and WeChat owner Tencent Holdings – became locked in a legal fight over alleged monopolistic practices. It comes on the heels of an announcement by the country’s central government planners, calling for the establishment of a nationwide market for trading data.
ByteDance, which accuses Tencent of blocking links to Douyin on WeChat and QQ, argued that users are the owners of the data they create. In a statement issued on Tuesday, ByteDance said “users have the absolute right to control their own data, which should override the platform’s rights ... User data shouldn’t be Tencent’s ‘private possession’.”