Almost a decade ago (January 2012) the European Commission initiated the reform of EU Data Protection rules that resulted in the 2016 GDPR (applied since May 2018). During this time, the Commission reckoned that improved analytics and processing of personal and non-personal data, especially of big data, are key to major economic benefits: increase in productivity through better business intelligence, innovation acceleration, cost reduction through more personalized services and efficiency increase in the public sector.
In this regard, Regulation (EU) 2018/1807 on a framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union intended to remove obstacles to the free movement of non-personal data between different EU countries and IT systems in Europe. Similarly, Directive (EU) 2019/1024 on open data and the re-use of public sector information (Open Data Directive) which should have been transposed in all EU Member States last 17 July 2021, aimed to stimulate the development of innovative solutions such as mobility apps, increase transparency by opening the access to publicly funded research data, and support new technologies, including artificial intelligence.
On 25 November 2020, the Commission adopted a Proposal for a Regulation on European data governance Data Governance Act (https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/data-governance ) complementing the Open Data Directive as this Directive did not cover the use of data held by public sector bodies in situations where such data is dependent on the rights of others (data that might be subject to data protection legislation, intellectual property, or contain trade secrets or other commercially sensitive information). With this initiative the Commission aims to boost data sharing across sectors and Member States.
But, leaving aside the well-known love of regulation of the EU, it seems that the above jigsaw of regulations and initiatives are insufficient: to complement the above-mentioned Data Governance Act, the Commission is now considering the adoption of a horizontal legislative initiative the Data Act (https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/13045-Data-Act-&-amended-rules-on-the-legal-protection-of-databases_en ) so that its new European strategy for the data economy is achieved.
Under this new initiative, a review of Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases is also planned to ensure continued relevance for the data economy.
A consultation on this new legislative proposal is open until 3 September 2021 for all types of stakeholders, including citizens and businesses, about the different measures being explored in preparing the Data Act. The consultation will collect and group the information into eight sections:
1. Business-to-government data sharing for the public interest.
2. Business-to-business data sharing.
3. Tools for data sharing: smart contracts.
4. Clarifying rights on non-personal Internet of Things data stemming from professional use.
5. Improving portability for business users of cloud services.
6. Complementing the portability right under Article 20 GDPR.
7. Intellectual Property Rights – Protection of Databases.
8. Safeguards for non-personal data in international contexts.
CALL TO ACTION: You can contribute to this consultation by filling in the online questionnaire.