Former Executive Director, Europe & the U.S.-UK Business Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
June 02, 2021
Data is Fundamental
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with borders closed to international travel and supply chains for critical materials repeatedly disrupted, we have been frequently reminded that data is fundamental to the modern economy. Without data, and the ability to move it effortlessly across borders, we would have been unable to stay connected. International data exchanges also are key to driving innovation, as evidenced by the development, testing, and distribution of effective vaccines in record time.
Among other things, the Data Strategy aims to incentivize companies to share data collaboratively. Yet companies already do this, often governed by contractual arrangements. Data sharing can also raise privacy considerations and in these cases is highly regulated. Most importantly, companies invest in data collection, and they use data to innovate and to build their own competitive position in the marketplace. In that context, data is effectively a property right, and companies are understandably hesitant to share data that their business has generated.
Where data is owned by the government, opening such data sets at the national and European level creates potential opportunities. The European Union is a world leader in collecting weather and traffic data, for example. Letting companies access that information could yield significant benefits like limiting the time spent in traffic or predicting the impact of storm systems.
EU's Data Strategy
Europe has already signaled that it wants to compel data sharing as part of its Digital Markets Act. , that proposal would specifically target American companies, which is clearly unacceptable. It remains to be seen whether that heavy-handed approach continues to expand as the EU Data Strategy is implemented.