New EU data sharing legislation will stimulate innovation and help start-ups and businesses use big data.
With immense possibilities in areas from farming to health, big data can play a key role in the EU’s digital transformation.
The Data Governance Act, adopted by Parliament on 6 April 2022, aims to boost data sharing in the EU, so that companies and start-ups will have access to more data that they can use to develop new products and services. Access to big data is crucial to exploiting the potential of artificial intelligence.
"Data only has value if it is aggregated, refined and used in the right way," said Angelika Niebler (EPP, Germany), the MEP who steered the legislation through Parliament. "Some businesses might not even know what can be done with data from, for example, their industrial machines. Through more data sharing new business models can emerge, more efficiency can be achieved or products can be improved."
With new data sharing legislation, businesses will also benefit from a lower cost of data and lower market entry barriers, allowing them to place their products faster.
Data can also benefit consumers by ensuring smarter energy consumption, which can help lower emissions. It might also allow for personalised medicines. "The possibilities are virtually limitless," said Niebler.
Learn more about the definition, benefits and challenges of big data in our infographic
How will new data sharing legislation help build trust?
The new rules aim to build trust in data sharing, making it safer and easier as well ensuring it is in line with data protection legislation. This will be achieved through a range of tools, from technical solutions such as anonymisation and pooling of data to legally binding agreements by the reusers.
The rules will enable data collected in some public sector areas to be better used. They also allow the creation of common European data spaces for important areas: health, environment, energy, agriculture, mobility, finance, manufacturing, public administration and skills.
The new rules for data marketplaces - usually online platforms where users can buy or sell data - will help new intermediaries be recognised as trustworthy data organisers.
The rules will also make it easier for companies, individuals and public organisations that wish to share data for the benefit of society (data altruism).
The rules aim to create an alternative to big data platforms that have hold a mass of data.
"The neutrality of the data intermediation services is key," said Niebler. "We know from polls among SMEs that many businesses are reluctant to share data because they fear it could end up in the wrong hands. Likewise, as a citizen, if I am sharing sensitive health data I want to be sure that it is handled by a trusted organisation that has to follow certain rules. With the Data Governance Act, especially with the certification scheme (...), we can establish data marketplaces that businesses and citizens can trust."
The Data Governance Act must be adopted by the EU countries in the Council before it becomes law.