Two weeks ago, the European Parliament approved new rules governing the exchange of data. These new rules, known as the Data Governance Act (DGA), take us a significant step closer to the development of a ‘soft infrastructure’ for data sharing.
The DGA is a direct result of the European Data Strategy of 2020. The new rules will apply to the data of government bodies, businesses and citizens. The DGA has three goals:
1. To increase the trust in data sharing
Data that people, businesses or organisations voluntarily make available on altruistic grounds must be used to serve the common good as much as possible. This applies to data that could be relevant for scientific research, healthcare, tackling climate change or improving mobility, for example.
In the near future, thanks to the DGA, organisations that gather data to serve the common good must also be able to apply to be listed in a national register of altruistic organisations. A single European logo will be developed to show that organisations comply with the DGA. The European Parliament hopes that this will encourage citizens to share data with those organisations.
2. To make it easier to reuse public-sector data
The DGA aims to make it easier to reuse certain data that is held by the government and that is of added value for society, such as personal data or trade secrets.
Government bodies must be equipped with the right technology and processes to handle such data safely and securely. Therefore, it will be necessary to set up an electronic register of public-sector data.
3. To tighten the rules relating to the neutrality of data intermediaries
Suppliers of data-sharing services (so-called data intermediaries) will have to comply with tighter rules. For example, once the DGA comes into force companies will not be allowed to trade data on their own initiative.
Instead, data intermediaries that wish to sell data to others will first have to be registered with one of the authorised government bodies which will be tasked with ensuring that such organisations stick to the rules. For example, in the Netherlands it is not yet clear which national body will be made responsible for this task.
The aim is to achieve neutrality for data intermediaries; they must connect data holders and data users with one another in a neutral manner.
The DGA defines the urgently needed rules or agreements that form the basis for a soft infrastructure for data sharing – rules that must be complied with by all parties who wish to share data with one another. This will create a safe environment of trust in which data owners have full control over the data they generate. Therefore, as DSN organisations, we are delighted that the European Parliament has approved the text of the DGA.
The next step is for the European Council and the member states to formally approve the text too and then the DGA will be a fact – and the basis for the soft infrastructure for data sharing will finally be in place.