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EU approved Data Governance Act (DGA)

EU stars with binary numbersOn April 6, 2022 the EU approved the Data Governance Act final text. Well, technically this should read “EU Parliament” as the European Council and Members States also have to agree the final text. Typically, this should be a formality.

Upon all agreements and publication of final text, it will take another 15 months before the DGA will become effective in all EU Member States.

 

Summary of Digital Governance Act (DGA)

 

The original proposal was presented by EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in 2020. DGA will affect data from public bodies, private companies and citizens.

One of the main ideas behind DGA is that data that has been generated or collected by public sector bodies or other entities at the expense of public budgets should benefit society. Past legislation has already tried to move this forward already.

Main aims of the DGA are:

  • Increase trust in sharing data for general society benefits (e.g. data that can be of interest for science, healthcare, climate control or mobility improvements).Organisations that collect this type of data can apply to be included in a national register.

    A new EU Logo will be introduced to identify organizations that comply with the DGA. The EU hopes this will encourage citizens / companies to share date with these organisations.

  • Making it easier to reuse government data (e.g. data of added value for the economy and society including personal data or information about trade secrets).The DGA states that public authorities have to ensure they are technically equipped to handle this data securely. For this purpose, an electronic register of government data will be set-up.
  • Ensure stricter rules around data share neutrality. Suppliers of data sharing services (“data intermediaries”) will be forced to adhere to tighter rules (e.g. companies will not be allowed to trade data on their own initiative).With the introduction of DGA (remember, still at least 15 months off) and data intermediary that wants to resell data will be forced to report this to a government agency.

    The idea is that data intermediaries will function as a neutral party connecting data holders and data users in a neutral way.

Comments / observations

It is clear that AI is going to make ever increasing progress. In this regard the EU is far behind China and US. Sharing data would off course be a step in optimizing the use of AI.

However, the optimism from the side of the EU is commendable it seems to assume that public bodies, private companies and citizens always have the ‘the benefit of society’ as one of their main goals.

Investment companies are typically forced to put a disclaimer on their past performance – it not being a guarantee for future performance. But general consensus is that most of the time it actually is, hence the meme “history repeats itself”. Various large scale “projects” in the past, have shown (are showing?) that this is not the case. In the end, the goals are related to making money and/or personal gains.

From a technological point of view governments are going to have to get to grips with monitoring large amounts of data being stored and used properly. One of the main tools that could be invaluable in working for a solution here is blockchain technology. But governments have been skeptical and have imposed (and are imposing) barriers in this field – mainly driven by lack of knowledge and vision.

For those who have worked with Google Analytics, you will know the amount of data that Google is able to patch together on an individual (“you”) from a very extensive range of information sources. From a technological point of view this an impressive achievement. However, would governments be able to understand this process and oversee this? If you have followed the congressional hearings by U.S. Senators investigating Google, Facebook and Microsoft then this question seems to answer itself.

A lot of barriers and concerns above, but at the same time – kudos for taking the step forward. There will be mistakes, data breaches, unlawful use / selling of data – but potentially society will benefit as a whole in the end. Members of Parliaments in the EU will need to take a hard look at themselves and either educate themselves or get the right (younger?) people on board.

Actions

For our clients in the asset management industry this may off course open up a whole new area for data analysis. Monitor progress, keep an eye on which government bodies become responsible for the oversight etc.

Internal links

External links

EU resolution (complete – long)