Volume 95, No. 4, Summer 2023
By Asaf Lubin [PDF]

This short reflection looks at one controversial category reboot in the governance of emerging digital rights, the recent proposals for the establishment of a unique set of new right holders: collectives. In my brief remarks, I wish to direct our attention to this elusive and evolving concept of “collective data rights” and its relationship with sovereignty. In this piece, I wish to highlight the transnational risks associated with formal recognition of communitarian rights over data under international human rights law. While not rejecting the prospects of such an endeavor wholesale, the paper merely calls for greater caution and nuance in the development of such rights. This Essay proceeds in two Sections. Section I maps out current proposals for the formulation of “collective data rights” and the motivations behind them. Section II applies the political science concept of “unjust collectivities” in the context of collective data rights to demonstrate some of the potential risks associated with this emerging discourse. Finally, I conclude by proposing a middle ground for advocates writing in this space.