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The concept of Datenherrschaft of patient information from a Heideggerian perspective

Jani Simo Sakari Koskinen (Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, Information Systems Science, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 15 January 2019

Issue publication date: 17 September 2019




In this paper, patient information is approached from a Heideggerian perspective with the intention to gather an understanding about the personal nature of the information. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the ownership of patient information and then present Datenherrschaft (German for “mastery over information”) as a suitable model for patient ownership of patient information.


This paper is theoretical in approach. It is based on arguments derived from Heidegger’s work in the Being and Time.


Based on this Heideggerian approcah, a proposal for using the special definition of ownership of patient information – Datenherrschaft – given to a patient is suggested. From a Heideggerian perspective, it can be stated that the patient has the strongest rights towards patient information because this information is crucial for a patient to have an understanding about their Dasein (being-in-the-world).

Research limitations/implications

Datenherrschaft is used as an example of an ethically justified way of regulating the patient information ownership and should be analysed further. Especially the practical implications of implementing Datenherrschaft need more research.


Patient information ownership is an issue that is neither unambiguously solved in many countries, nor has it, in our view, been ethically justified. The potential solution – Datenherrschaft – presented in this paper is clear and has strong philosophical justifications.



Koskinen, J.S.S. (2019), "The concept of Datenherrschaft of patient information from a Heideggerian perspective", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 336-353.



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