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data governance act

EU wants to become the number one data continent

Through the Data Governance Act the European Commission aims to leverage the potential of data held by public bodies and companies or voluntarily disclosed by private individuals. To this end, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton and EU Digital Commissioner Margrethe Vestager have jointly drafted a bill for a new law on data control.

The goals are ambitious: according to Breton, investments triggered by the regulation, including the development of key infrastructures, should ensure that Europe becomes the "number one data continent worldwide". The plans also envisage a new direction for data streams. These should no longer flow through US companies such as Amazon, Google or Facebook, but rather through independent data custodians based in the EU.

Via this initiative the European Commission is also aiming to facilitate the sharing of valuable data sets for charitable purposes. To counter the risk of limited public availability of data, the draft regulation stipulates that public authorities avoid exclusive agreements with individual partners from the private sector.

The data thus made available has wide-ranging spheres of application. Here the Commission cites issues such as strategies to combat climate change as well as the development of future-oriented mobility solutions or, most recently, the fight against Covid-19. In this latter case, the aim is to enable patients to voluntarily donate data for scientific research. One option here is provided by the data donation app created by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), whereby volunteers can submit data recorded by fitness trackers and smart watches. This will provide scientists with valuable additional findings for use in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Data Governance Act envisages the formation of a panel of experts comprising representatives of EU Member States and the European Commission. The purpose of this “European Data Innovation Board” is to draw the Commission's attention to data innovations and support it in putting ideas into practice.

This European legal framework will lay the foundations for addressing the issues of data sovereignty and data security on the basis of European values, while simultaneously being able to deploy the data in a meaningful way.