Data Governance Act: first step by the EU Commission to strengthen European data ecosystems

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In late November 2020, the European Commission published the so-called "Data Governance Act". This is the first major legislative package in a series of measures announced as part of the European Data Strategy.

The proposed regulation aims to promote the availability of data and to establish mechanisms for the re-use and sharing of data. Under the slogan "A Europe fit for the digital age", the EU aims to take the lead in a data-driven world. 

Re-use of public sector data

On the one hand, the Data Governance Act is intended to enable the re-use of data from public bodies that are not already covered by the so-called "Open Data Directive". This applies in particular to data that is subject to third-party rights, such as personal data or data protected by copyright, but also trade secrets. In this context it is important that the regulation does not establish a right of access to data. According to the Commission, the aim of the regulation is to establish uniform conditions in the EU under which the further use of data could be permitted. Personal data should be made completely anonymous before being transmitted. However, the proposal does not provide an answer to the considerable problems and legal uncertainties as how personal data can be made secure and anonymous within the provisions of the general data protection regulation. 

Creating trust through trusted data intermediaries, facilitating data donations

Secondly, it sets out requirements for service providers for data sharing. The aim is to strengthen confidence in the sharing of personal and non-personal data by introducing neutral data trustees and intermediaries. However, it remains unclear which providers of these services meet the conditions set out by the Commission. The Data Governance Act will also lay down rules for data altruism by individuals or by companies for the benefit of the general public. A uniform Europe-wide data protection consent form shall facilitate the possibility of data donation.