Property and data: A confused relationship

Joseph Lee, Marc Van de Looverbosch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter looks at how the relationship between property and data can cause legal confusion when the two interact in blockchain-based digital finance. Two types of crypto-assets, payment tokens and asset tokens are introduced and potential ways to give transactions legal certainty are suggested. Four court cases are used to demonstrate how a poorly-defined relationship between property and data can give rise to legal confusion, and how this can affect the court’s apporach to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. An appraoch is proposed in which a distinction is made between property that consists of data, and data itself. This can help crypto-asset providers design internal data governance to protect both clents’ property and their data. The extent to which this approach is in line with the provisions under the proposed EU MiCA and GDPR is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProperty and data
Subtitle of host publicationA confused relationship
EditorsAline Darbellay
PublisherEdward Elgar
ISBN (Electronic)978 1 80037 994 4
ISBN (Print)978 1 80037 994 7
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2022


  • Crypto-asset
  • payment token, asset token, data governance, GDPR, MiCA


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