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Investigating the legal protection of data, information and knowledge under the EU data protection regime

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Information science distinguishes between the semantic forms/intangibles of data, information and knowledge. Data (e.g. an attribute of a data record in a relational database) does not have any meaning by itself. Information is data brought into context (e.g. data related to its primary key), and knowledge is the collection of information for useful intent (e.g. a database). This paper investigates the mapping of semantic forms in information science (i.e. data, information, knowledge) to correlative concepts in information law (primarily data protection legislation) with a view to investigating how such semantic forms are legally protected. The paper first proposes a data, information, knowledge, rules (DIKR) hierarchy in the context of relational database theory, and interprets this hierarchy with respect to data protection concepts. The paper then gives an in-depth discussion of the elements of the DIKR hierarchy (data, information, knowledge, deduced knowledge, induced knowledge) and how they relate to the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. These relationships are summarized in the form of a two dimensional correlation matrix. Finally the paper discusses how the semantic forms identified are protected under the EU Data Protection Directive, and gives insightful observations about the connection between information law and information science.
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Keywords: data protection; information law; information science

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Law and Informatics, Institute for Economics, Ljubljana, Slovenia 2: School of Engineering and Information Sciences, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, London, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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