A new strategy has been launched to promote the health of Europe’s data economy, in a way that reduces dependency on services and products created beyond European borders.
The plan released by the European Commission foresees Europe as a pioneer in standards regarding data-powered technologies such as AI, facial recognition and other developments that harness biometrics.
The plans announced by senior EC members aim to create “technologies that work for the people,” a “fair and competitive economy” and “an open, democratic and sustainable society.”
“I want digital Europe to reflect the best of Europe – open, fair, diverse, democratic and confident,” said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EC.
The programme includes the formulation of a “single data market” in time for 2030, which will be underpinned by four policy areas: governance; enablers; skills, and initiation of European data spaces in a number of economic spheres.
The goal is to foster an environment that will allow European firms to compete with US tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Apple. The EC is determined to bring Silicon Valley’s monopoly on data to an end, and to allow any business to leverage decisions based on anonymised datasets.
Data portability is a key part of the plan, with enhanced control over who can access and use machine-generated data being leveraged under Article 20 of the GDPR.
Speaking to ComputerWeekly, Sue Daley of trade body, TechUK praised the EC’s intentions and highlighted commonalities between approaches in Europe and in Britain.
“We also share many of the same challenges, such as getting responsible data innovation right and building public trust and confidence in data-driven technologies.”
“To remain globally competitive, Europe must continue to be open to world-leading talent and innovation. The UK has a lot to contribute and stands ready to help,” Daley added.
Speaking on the imperative to handle and new data-sharing arrangements with the utmost care, Michael Ingrassia, President and General Counsel at Trūata, said:
“What needs to be kept front of mind in considering these proposals is the sensitive nature of customer data. Any data-sharing, such as proposed, would need to be handled very thoughtfully to make sure that the focus isn’t solely on how the value in this data can be realised by more than just a few tech giants – but also on how the rights of the customers underlying this data can be respected.
“Data can be the driver of growth and innovation. But the regulators discussing this should keep in mind that this isn’t just data – there are people behind this data. And those customers’ trust in how that data is handled must be respected, which would certainly include, among other measures, making sure that any data is properly anonymised before it is shared.
“To achieve genuine anonymisation, best industry practice is to have an expert independently carry out the anonymisation using cutting edge technology and techniques. This would allow the European Commission to achieve its objective – to allow society to benefit from the great inherent value in data by sharing that data among a broader array of industry participants – without betraying the trust of the customers underlying that data and the obligation of both the public and private sectors to respect customers’ fundamental right to privacy.”
The European Commission has now begun a consultation period, during which the recently launched AI whitepaper will be discussed. It is hoped that strategy will be finalised before the end of this year.
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