FEPS DataTalks I – Data sharing in the public interest

In cooperation with MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri

FEPS Office (Brussels)

In cooperation with MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri

In February 2022, the European Commission published its proposal for a Data Act. It aims to incentivise the sharing and usage of data, while also increasing fairness in the data value chain, and providing a European alternative to the data economy, typically marked by data monopolies and data hoarding. Moreover, it intends to create a more dynamic cloud computing market: the fundamental infrastructure underlying the digital transformation.

This proposal is the next step in the EU’s agenda to get the data economy right. And it comes on top of recent proposals to spur public sector data sharing and re-use, to facilitate the sharing of data among businesses, and to prevent lock-in for SMEs and citizens. But many questions remain, and they need to be resolved in the coming months as the Data Act is being discussed by the European Parliament and the Member States.

In the first policy breakfast meeting we discussed data transfers from businesses to public authorities. Right now, the Data Act limits these transfers to exceptional situations, but is that framing appropriate for an economy in which data takes a central role and where the achievement of many goals in the general interest rely on its general availability?

Francesca Bria, the President of the Italian National Innovation Fund and former CTO of Barcelona, kicked off the discussion. Based on her experience at the municipality of Barcelona, she reflected on the data public authorities need to guarantee the democratic and effective management of public spaces and services, and what this means for data governance arrangements. 

Afterwards, Paul Keller from the Open Future Foundation assessed what such a public-interest framework for data-sharing would mean for the Data Act, based on the foundation’s recent report. Then, the discussion opened up to participants, structured around key thematic questions.

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