I am not sure whether data governance and policy is covered by this community. I'm giving it a try and let me know if I need to adjust.

While surveying all the data of my current employer, and developing a data governance policy, I am able to categorize two different sets of data on our customers:

  • data we collect on customers
  • data we produce about customers

Example in the context of my organisation (the data producer and data collector) being a school:

  1. Collected Data: the student's parent's names and date of birth
  2. Produced Data: the student's grades.

However, from the general definition of data collection, it seems that the data produced also falls under the "data collection" term. Is there a generally accepted term to dissociate these two categories?


1 Answer 1


There are probably many ways to think about this, but in the statistical world view I think the word you are looking for is dependent variable.

Statistician see students (or any other object for that matter) as a stochastic process that produce outcomes (dependent variables) given traits that we can observe (independent variables).

Data scientists tend to call those things target outcomes and features respectively.

None of these terms however mean anything about who owns the data. Philosophically a dependent variable is produced by the stochastic process (the outcome is governed by the givens), and are in a sense a characteristic of the process. Policywise this doesn't carry much weight though. GDPR for instance is mainly concerned about data that can be used to identify persons. That isn't likely the case with outcome variables, but it can be!

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks that’s very insightful. So in legal terms (under local laws applicable) define the owner as the person liable for the data, also referred to as data controller, whereas the data subject is the person who is identified through the data. The way it relates to the data governance is with regard to the necessity of the data as well as the process of collection and whether this collection is deemed a contractual obligation or not. I think your suggestions are going to help me a lot further thanks. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2020 at 10:31
  • $\begingroup$ PS not sure if I was clear that in the example case the data collector is the school. So basically my organisation produces the grade and retains them, as well as collects data about the student which it does not produce. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2020 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ What law are we talking about, GDPR by chance? $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2020 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ PDPA (Thailand) $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2020 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not up to date on the PDPA. Under GDPR schools, and subcontractors, would be data processors of personal data, wherein personal data would be any data that can be used identify a person. Hence the use of that data should be reasonably motivated per case. Grades shouldn't reasonably be regarded as personal data (You could think of a scenario though). Not withstanding other agreements and common sense, I wouldn't think you'd be limited in using those. As long as you do not connect them to data that can be used to identify the person (such as a person name of Social Security Number). $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2020 at 12:25

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