EU’s Data Act makes progress on locking down data-sharing rules

23 Feb 2022

Image: © 9dreamstudio/Stock.adobe.com

Commissioner Thierry Breton said the proposals would go towards ‘unlocking a wealth of industrial data’ benefiting all of society.

The European Commission has today (23 February) revealed a set of proposals for a Data Act that will clarify who can create value from data and under what conditions.

The proposed rules are part of the EU’s continued effort to restore the balance of power to people rather than major corporations when it comes to data sharing and ownership.

Future Human

“We want to give consumers and companies even more control over what can be done with their data, clarifying who can access data and on what terms,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president for a Europe fit for the digital age.

“This is a key digital principle that will contribute to creating a solid and fair data-driven economy and guide the digital transformation by 2030.”

The rules affect all non-personal data and would loosen Big Tech’s grip on commercial and industrial data.

Under the new rules, users of connected devices would be able to gain access to data generated by themselves and share it with third parties. This means people would be able to transfer their data from a product such as Amazon’s Alexa or a Tesla vehicle to another company.

The Commission is also proposing that companies must make data available to the public sector in emergencies, such as floods or wildfires.

Larger companies will also be prevented from withholding data from smaller companies for their own commercial gain, and companies will be obliged to make it easier for customers to transfer data between cloud providers.

According to Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market, the proposals represent an “important step in unlocking a wealth of industrial data in Europe, benefiting businesses, consumers, public services and society as a whole”.

“So far, only a small part of industrial data is used and the potential for growth and innovation is enormous. The Data Act will ensure that industrial data is shared, stored and processed in full respect of European rules. It will form the cornerstone of a strong, innovative and sovereign European digital economy,” Breton added.

The proposal could take several years to come into effect as it has yet to go to the European Parliament and member states for approval.

The Data Act is intended to act as a companion to the Data Governance Act, which was presented in 2020 to create the processes and structures to facilitate data sharing by companies, individuals and the public sector.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

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