The European Commission Wednesday proposed the Data Act, comprised of harmonized rules on access to and use of data generated in the EU across all economic sectors. The Act intends to ensure fair access to data, stimulate competition in data markets and create opportunities for data-driven innovation.
Key proposals of the Act include measures to allow users to access data generated by them and to share such data with third parties, measures to shield small and medium enterprises from unfair contractual terms in data sharing contracts, measures to allow customers to effectively switch between different cloud data-processing services providers with adequate safeguards, and provisions for public sector bodies to access and use data held by the private sector in exceptional circumstances.
Thierry Breton, the Commissioner for Internal Market, explained the importance of the new rules for businesses, consumers, public services and society:
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.
The Data Act is the second main legislative initiative stemming from the 2020 European strategy for data. The European Commission previously proposed the Data Governance Act in November 2020 to facilitate data sharing and handling, as well as to increase citizens’ and companies’ control over the use of their data.
Along with the new rules, the Commission also published a working document on common, interoperable European data spaces with the potential to overcome existing techno-legal barriers to data sharing.