Data Governance Act

EU aims to promote European data exchange


At the end of last year, the European Commission presented its draft law on a legal framework for data sharing within the EU and the European data economy. The draft Data Governance Act was presented by Commission Vice-President Magarethe Vesthager and Digital Commissioner Theirry Breton in Brussels on 25.11.20.

What is Data Governance?

Data governance (to German data management) refers to measures and rules for the use of data. These include mechanisms and agreements as well as technical standards for data sharing as well as structures and processes for secure data exchange.

What do we need data governance for?

Data have been playing an increasing role in social and economic issues forsome years now. They offer the potential to gain new insights through their processing. These lead to innovations,for example in the development of economic products or services. But new insights are also leading to progressin the public sector, such as in the health sector to combat disease.

In order to realize the real potential of data, it must be made available for easy exchange. At the same time, provision must be made to safeguard the protection of personal rights.


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Goals of the Data Governance Act

The Main Objective of the Data Governance Act is to combine the different requirements of such a legal framework. At its core, there are three main objectives:

  • Firstly, EU-wide harmonisation of conditions for the re-use of protected data held by public authorities.
  • Secondly, the creation of so-called data intermediaries,which are intended to provide a reporting and supervisory framework for data sharing services.
  • In addition, a framework for so-called data altruism will be created – the voluntary registration of institutions that collect and process data provided for altruistic purposes, as well as the possibility for citizens to donate personal data for altruistic research purposes.

European Data Single Market

As a result, European citizens will be given more control over their personal data, confidence will be promoted and the EU’s data sovereignty will be strengthened. European data spaces facilitate data exchange within the EU and in accordance with EU-compliant principles.

The creation of such a European single data market promises economic and social benefits, as mentioned above. The aim is not to prevent the exchange of data with data processors outside the EU – only the protection of personal and sensitive company-related data of European citizens is to be more secure.

Fears for personal data protection

It is true that the EU Commission sees the new regulation as the focus of the new regulation on the use of non-personal data, such as from industry. Nevertheless, some data protectors fear for the protection of personal data rights achieved by the EU GDPR.

Terms that are only vaguely defined, such as “data altruism” or “data reuse”, pose a threat to citizens’ control over the use of their data (https://www.accessnow.org/european-union-privacy-legacy/ ). To protect this control, the Commission envisaged the roles of data intermediaries, who would be trusted third parties entrusted with the processing of the data without disclosing it.

Another approach is to anonymize data. However, the bill also comes under criticism from privacy advocates. The technical conditions for irreversible data anonymisation are not yet in place, said Max Schrem during a debate with Commissioner Breton(https://www.bruegel.org/events/future-of-data-economy-a-conversation-with-thierry-breton-and-maximilian-schrems/).

CONCLUSION: What does that mean?

What is certain is that with such a new data regulation, we will see some innovations, some of which should be welcome, while others will certainly present us with challenges. Until 21.01.21, the EU Commission is still opening up the possibility to provide feedback on the draft (https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12491-Data-sharing-in-the-EU-common-European-data-spaces-new-rules).

The draft regulation will now be guided through the usual legislative procedure. The new rules are unlikely to be adopted before 2022.

Questions & Answers
https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/de/QANDA_20_2103

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