Today the EU Commission published its draft of the Data Governance ActThis piece of regulation is part of the data strategy as published on 19 February. The document includes several essential elements for data sovereignty:

  1. Citizens, businesses and public sector bodies should have control over their data
  2. Data and data spaces need to become interoperable across sectors
  3. Recognition of data intermediaries within a data ecosystem, which has to comply with a still-to-be-defined authorisation framework
  4. Balanced pan-European governance, under the leadership of the still-to-be-established Data Innovation Board

The members of the Data Sovereignty Now (DSN) movement applaud the Data Governance Act because it will make it possible to achieve data sovereignty functionality as part of the data spaces architecture. The Data Governance Act lays the foundation for today’s and future intermediaries (e.g. brokers, data market players, gateways, software platforms) to become certified data intermediaries. It will create a basic level of compliance, legal conditions and last but not least a unified data experience across data spaces, for all citizens, business and government users of data services.

However, as the DSN movement, we believe there is a risk of focusing too quickly on the “new entities” (the ‘intermediaries’) that will provide data services in the new European data ecosystem. We strongly advise against working to regulate the content of specific roles and responsibilities of these intermediaries at such an early stage. Instead, we should let the public-private partnership take care of this in a pre-defined future period, guided by clear regulated principles such as interoperability requirements and sound governance.

In that context, we are keen to highlight the following two points:

Firstly, focusing on the intermediaries will divert attention from the real aim: to co-create, organise and stimulate adoption of decentralised access to and exchange of data while maintaining trust, security and interoperability.

Secondly, creating a soft infrastructure will result in the identification and description of certain (certified) roles and which parties (public/private) should fulfil them in the data ecosystems. These roles will be fulfilled by both existing and future intermediaries of various natures in the same data ecosystem at different times. Once a soft infrastructure is in place, it will be a clear framework enabling all concerned to either use the framework, choose to play a certified role within the framework, or build intermediary services on top of it. 

The goal of the DSN movement is to encourage national and European policymakers and politicians to make sure that data sovereignty becomes the central guiding principle of the data economy, and a prerequisite for every organisation’s data architecture. Data sovereignty should become equally as important as the reduction of carbon emissions. We are keen to start the dialogue with policymakers and politicians to achieve this together. Feel free to contact us for more details or to discuss the opportunities.

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