Skip to content
On 25 November 2020, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on European Data Governance (“Data Governance Act”).  The proposed Act aims to facilitate data sharing across the EU and between sectors, and is one of the deliverables included in the European Strategy for Data, adopted in February 2020.  (See our previous blog here for a summary of the Commission’s European Strategy for Data.)  The press release accompanying the proposed Act states that more specific proposals on European data spaces are expected to follow in 2021, and will be complemented by a Data Act to foster business-to-business and business-to-government data sharing.The proposed Data Governance Act sets out rules relating to the following:
  • Conditions for reuse of public sector data that is subject to existing protections, such as commercial confidentiality, intellectual property, or data protection;
  • Obligations on “providers of data sharing services,” defined as entities that provide various types of data intermediary services;
  • Introduction of the concept of “data altruism” and the possibility for organisations to register as a “Data Altruism Organisation recognised in the Union”; and
  • Establishment of a “European Data Innovation Board,” a new formal expert group chaired by the Commission.

Conditions for reuse of public sector data (Chapter II, Articles 3-8)

Chapter II of the Data Governance Act would impose conditions on public-sector bodies when they make certain protected data that they hold available for re-use.  These provisions apply to data held by public-sector bodies that are protected on grounds of commercial or statistical confidentiality, intellectual property rights, or personal data protection.  The Act does not impose new obligations on public-sector bodies to allow re-use of data and does not release them from their existing legal obligations with respect to data.  But if public-sector bodies do make protected data available for re-use, they must comply with the conditions set out in Chapter II.

Specifically, the Act prohibits public-sector bodies from granting exclusive rights in data or restricting the availability of data for re-use by entities other than the parties to such exclusive agreements, with limited derogations.  In addition, if a public-sector body grants or refuses access for the re-use of data, it must ensure that the conditions for such access (or refusal) are non-discriminatory, proportionate, and objectively justified, and must make those conditions publicly available. The Act also provides that public bodies “shall” impose conditions “that preserve the functioning of the technical systems” used to process such data, and authorizes the Commission to adopt implementing acts declaring that third countries to which such data may be transferred provide IP and trade secret protections that are “essentially equivalent” to those in the EU.

In addition, where specific EU acts establish that certain non-personal data categories held by public-sector bodies are  “highly sensitive,” such data may be subject to restrictions on cross-border transfers, as specified by the Commission through delegated acts.

Obligations on “providers of data sharing services” (Chapter III, Articles 9-14)

Chapter III of the Act introduces new rules for the operation of data intermediaries, termed “providers of data sharing services”.  Specifically, it would establish a notification and compliance framework for providers of the following data sharing services:

  • Intermediation services between data holders and data users, which include platforms or databases enabling the exchange or joint exploitation of data, such as industry data spaces;
  • Intermediation services between data subjects that seek to make their personal data available and potential data users; and
  • “Data cooperative” services that support individuals or SMEs to negotiate terms and conditions for data processing.

The Act set out several requirements that providers of these data sharing services would need to comply with, including:

  • Notifying the relevant EU Member State authority of its intent to provide such services;
  • Appointing a legal representative in one of the Member States, if the company is not established within the EU;
  • Not using the data collected for other purposes, and using any metadata only for the development of that service;
  • Placing its data sharing service in a “separate legal entity” from its other services;
  • Having in place adequate security safeguards; and
  • Imposing a fiduciary duty towards data subjects to act in their best interests.

Member States would be required to nominate a “competent authority” with the power to monitor compliance with the Act’s requirements, to impose financial penalties, and to “require cessation or postponement” of the provision of the service.

Introduction of the concept of “data altruism” (Chapter IV, Articles 15-22)

Chapter IV of the Act introduces the concept of “data altruism”, which describes situations where individuals or companies make data voluntarily available for re-use, without compensation, for the common good—such as for scientific research or improving public services.  The Act proposes the establishment of a registration and monitoring regime for organisations that facilitate data altruism, called “data altruism organisations”.  These organisations must meet certain conditions to register with competent authorities—including a requirement to operate on an independent not-for-profit basis—and will be subject to transparency obligations and other requirements to safeguard the rights and interests of data subjects and legal entities as regards their data.  The Commission will also be empowered to adopt implementing acts to develop a European data altruism consent form.

Here again, Member States would be required to nominate a “competent authority” with the power to monitor compliance with the Act’s requirements; sanctions, however, would be limited to revoking an entity’s right to refer to itself as an EU data altruism organization.

Establishment of the European Data Innovation Board (Chapter VI, Articles 26-27)

Chapter VI of the Act requires the Commission to establish a new body called the “European Data Innovation Board”.  This Board would be tasked with ensuring a consistent application of the Act across all Member States, supporting cross-sector data sharing, and facilitating cooperation between national competent authorities. The Board will be composed of the competent authorities of all Member States, the European Data Protection Board, the European Commission, and representatives from relevant data spaces and competent authorities in specific sectors.

Restrictions on International Transfer

Chapter VIII sets out rules designed to regulate “transfer or access to non-personal data” in scenarios covered by the Act “where such transfer or access would create a conflict with Union law or the law of the relevant Member State.” It focuses in particular on scenarios in which an entity holding data covered by the Act is the addressee of an order from a third-country authority seeking access to the data and sets out the conditions that must be met before the entity may provide such access.

Next steps in the legislative process

The Data Governance Act must be debated and negotiated by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers before it is adopted.  Once adopted, it will enter into force after one year.

A public consultation was carried out on the Commission’s European Strategy for Data between February and May 2020, and an impact assessment of the Act was published by the Commission alongside the regulatory proposal in November 2020.

 

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Dan Cooper Dan Cooper

Daniel Cooper is co-chair of Covington’s Data Privacy and Cyber Security Practice, and advises clients on information technology regulatory and policy issues, particularly data protection, consumer protection, AI, and data security matters. He has over 20 years of experience in the field, representing…

Daniel Cooper is co-chair of Covington’s Data Privacy and Cyber Security Practice, and advises clients on information technology regulatory and policy issues, particularly data protection, consumer protection, AI, and data security matters. He has over 20 years of experience in the field, representing clients in regulatory proceedings before privacy authorities in Europe and counseling them on their global compliance and government affairs strategies. Dan regularly lectures on the topic, and was instrumental in drafting the privacy standards applied in professional sport.

According to Chambers UK, his “level of expertise is second to none, but it’s also equally paired with a keen understanding of our business and direction.” It was noted that “he is very good at calibrating and helping to gauge risk.”

Dan is qualified to practice law in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Belgium. He has also been appointed to the advisory and expert boards of privacy NGOs and agencies, such as Privacy International and the European security agency, ENISA.

Photo of Lisa Peets Lisa Peets

Lisa Peets leads the intellectual property and technology and media groups in the firm’s London office. Ms. Peets divides her time between London and Brussels, and her practice embraces legislative advocacy, trade and IP enforcement. In this context, she has worked closely with…

Lisa Peets leads the intellectual property and technology and media groups in the firm’s London office. Ms. Peets divides her time between London and Brussels, and her practice embraces legislative advocacy, trade and IP enforcement. In this context, she has worked closely with leading multinationals in a number of sectors, including many of the world’s best-known software and hardware companies.

On behalf of her clients, Ms. Peets has been actively engaged in a wide range of law reform efforts in Europe, on multilateral, regional and national levels. This includes advocacy on EU and national initiatives relating to e-commerce, copyright, patents, data protection, technology standards, compulsory licensing, IPR enforcement and emerging technologies. Ms. Peets also counsels clients on trade related matters, including EU export controls and sanctions rules and WTO compliance.

In the IP enforcement space, Ms. Peets coordinates a team of lawyers and Internet investigators who direct civil and criminal enforcement actions in countries throughout Europe and who conduct global notice and takedown programs to combat Internet piracy.

Ms. Peets is a member of the European Commission’s Expert Group on reform of the IP Enforcement Directive.

Photo of Mark Young Mark Young

Mark Young, an experienced tech regulatory lawyer, advises major global companies on their most challenging data privacy compliance matters and investigations.

Mark also leads on EMEA cybersecurity matters at the firm. He advises on evolving cyber-related regulations, and helps clients respond to…

Mark Young, an experienced tech regulatory lawyer, advises major global companies on their most challenging data privacy compliance matters and investigations.

Mark also leads on EMEA cybersecurity matters at the firm. He advises on evolving cyber-related regulations, and helps clients respond to incidents, including personal data breaches, IP and trade secret theft, ransomware, insider threats, and state-sponsored attacks.

Mark has been recognized in Chambers UK for several years as “a trusted adviser – practical, results-oriented and an expert in the field;” “fast, thorough and responsive;” “extremely pragmatic in advice on risk;” and having “great insight into the regulators.”

Drawing on over 15 years of experience advising global companies on a variety of tech regulatory matters, Mark specializes in:

  • Advising on potential exposure under GDPR and international data privacy laws in relation to innovative products and services that involve cutting-edge technology (e.g., AI, biometric data, Internet-enabled devices, etc.).
  • Providing practical guidance on novel uses of personal data, responding to individuals exercising rights, and data transfers, including advising on Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs) and compliance challenges following Brexit and Schrems II.
    Helping clients respond to investigations by data protection regulators in the UK, EU and globally, and advising on potential follow-on litigation risks.
  • GDPR and international data privacy compliance for life sciences companies in relation to:
    clinical trials and pharmacovigilance;

    • digital health products and services; and
    • marketing programs.
    • International conflict of law issues relating to white collar investigations and data privacy compliance.
  • Cybersecurity issues, including:
    • best practices to protect business-critical information and comply with national and sector-specific regulation;
      preparing for and responding to cyber-based attacks and internal threats to networks and information, including training for board members;
    • supervising technical investigations; advising on PR, engagement with law enforcement and government agencies, notification obligations and other legal risks; and representing clients before regulators around the world; and
    • advising on emerging regulations, including during the legislative process.
  • Advising clients on risks and potential liabilities in relation to corporate transactions, especially involving companies that process significant volumes of personal data (e.g., in the adtech, digital identity/anti-fraud, and social network sectors.)
  • Providing strategic advice and advocacy on a range of EU technology law reform issues including data privacy, cybersecurity, ecommerce, eID and trust services, and software-related proposals.
  • Representing clients in connection with references to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Photo of Sam Jungyun Choi Sam Jungyun Choi

Sam Jungyun Choi is an associate in the technology regulatory group in the London office. Her practice focuses on European data protection law and new policies and legislation relating to innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, online platforms, digital health products and autonomous…

Sam Jungyun Choi is an associate in the technology regulatory group in the London office. Her practice focuses on European data protection law and new policies and legislation relating to innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, online platforms, digital health products and autonomous vehicles. She also advises clients on matters relating to children’s privacy and policy initiatives relating to online safety.

Sam advises leading technology, software and life sciences companies on a wide range of matters relating to data protection and cybersecurity issues. Her work in this area has involved advising global companies on compliance with European data protection legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the UK Data Protection Act, the ePrivacy Directive, and related EU and global legislation. She also advises on a variety of policy developments in Europe, including providing strategic advice on EU and national initiatives relating to artificial intelligence, data sharing, digital health, and online platforms.

Marianna Drake

Marianna Drake is an associate in the technology regulatory group in the London office. Her practice focuses on European data protection law and new policies and legislation relating to innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and online platforms. Her practice encompasses regulatory compliance…

Marianna Drake is an associate in the technology regulatory group in the London office. Her practice focuses on European data protection law and new policies and legislation relating to innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and online platforms. Her practice encompasses regulatory compliance and advisory work. Marianna also advises clients on policy developments in online content and online safety.

We and the third parties that provide content, functionality, or business services on our website may use cookies to collect information about your browsing activities in order to provide you with more relevant content and promotional materials, on and off the website, and help us understand your interests and improve the website. Privacy Policy

AcceptReject