Why the EU’s new data strategy is noteworthy

Web Log: Proposed legislation could make access to data compulsory in some cases

Last week, the European Commission released its White Paper on Artificial Intelligence, as well as a strategy document on data that covered everything from the data economy to data protection and implementing standardised formats for data sharing (particularly in relation to industry-government relations).

Of note is a proposal, halfway through the strategy document, to create a new Data Act (2021). What could this Act entail? According to the document, it would address “the need for legislative action on issues that affect relations between actors in the data-agile economy”.

Legislation for a data-agile economy sounds vague, but as data protection researcher Gabriela Zanfir-Fortuna pointed out on Twitter: “This possible new Data Act would ‘Foster business-to-government data sharing for the public interest’, ‘support business-to-business data sharing’ and even specifies that ‘where specific circumstances so dictate, access to data should be made compulsory’.”

The last bit on compulsory access to data is noteworthy because a footnote in the document explains that it should be sector-specific and only implemented if a market failure is identified or flagged as a likelihood. This could refer to sharing of data in critical sectors such as eHealth. Interesting times.