EU’s Data Governance Act Targets Growth of Digital Economy

The European Parliament and EU Member States have reached an agreement on the Data Governance Act, clearing the way for final approval on legislation. The Data Governance Act is a framework designed to encourage sharing under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), consumer protection laws and competition rules. The goal is to develop common European data spaces in areas such as manufacturing, cultural heritage and health. The Data Governance Act is the first of two steps. The EU’s Data Act — which promotes data sharing among EU member states, businesses and government — will soon be formally proposed.

“Today’s proposal is the first deliverable under the European strategy for data, which aims to unlock the economic and societal potential of data and technologies like artificial intelligence, while respecting EU rules and values (for example in the area of data protection, and respect of intellectual property and trade secrets),” the European Council announced.

Trilogue DGA negotiations having resulted in agreement among the EU’s co-legislative branches — the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. The EC and the Council will now vote on the final text. The idea is to encourage data reuse by setting secure and privacy-compliant conditions for sharing, with one goal being the “creation of common data spaces across strategic domains to support R&D,” TechCrunch writes.

The plan is to create a network of neutral data intermediaries, as well as a compliance-monitoring oversight group “comprised of national monitoring authorities and a new advisory/steering body (aka, the European Data Innovation Board),” TechCrunch reports. The legislation also provides for the international transfer of non-personal data as an industrial corollary to the EU’s personal data export rules under the GDPR.

“Businesses, both small and large, will benefit from new business opportunities as well as from a reduction in costs for acquiring, integrating and processing data, from lower barriers to enter markets, and from a reduction in time-to-market for novel products and services,” the European Council revealed in a Q&A accompanying its press release.

TechCrunch cautions that “the DGA co-mingles purely economic goals (via opening access to data) with broad-brush notions of ‘data altruism’ and ‘data for society,” with noble goals like curing disease, raising concern among civil watchdogs like the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), which TechCrunch reports “has warned that ‘a weak definition of altruism in this agreement could allow companies to over-use vague, altruistic grounds to push consumers to share their data.’”