The data act

Briefing 15-05-2023

On 23 February 2022, the European Commission unveiled a proposal for an EU regulation – the data act – laying down harmonised rules on fair access to and use of data. The aim is to remove barriers to consumers and businesses' access to data, in a context in which the volume of data generated by humans and machines is increasing exponentially and becoming a critical factor for innovation by businesses (e.g. algorithm training) and by public authorities (e.g. shaping of smart cities). The proposed act establishes common rules governing the sharing of data generated by the use of connected products or related services (e.g. the internet of things, industrial machines) to ensure fairness in data-sharing contracts and to allow public sector bodies to use data held by enterprises where there is an exceptional need (e.g. public emergency). Furthermore, the proposed act introduces new rules to facilitate switching between providers of cloud services and other data-processing services, and puts in place safeguards against unlawful international data transfer by cloud service providers. The Council and Parliament have both proposed substantial amendments to the Commission's text and are now working towards a compromise text. Discussions focus, among other things, on defining the types of data falling in the scope of the act, ensuring that data sharing obligations will not endanger trade secrets, aligning the text with rules already enshrined in the General Data Protection Regulation and the Digital Markets Act, and setting the practical and financial details of cloud switching. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.