Brussels to relax data laws to help build EU tech giants

brussels-4056171_1920The European Commission is aiming to break US tech giants’ stranglehold on the data economy by changing the law to give EU businesses greater scope to the gather, share and process both business and personal data and pave the way for them to challenge the dominance of Facebook, Amazon and Google.

Decision Marketing first revealed the Commission’s plan for data-centric single market earlier this month but now it has put more flesh on the bones of the proposal in a new policy document, “the European strategy for data”.

It states: “Currently, a small number of Big Tech firms hold a large part of the world’s data. This could reduce the incentives for data-driven businesses to emerge, grow and innovate in the EU today, but numerous opportunities lie ahead.”

According to the proposal, Brussels will change EU policy and regulations to help create “a single European data space” that will ensure “data can flow within the EU”. This will favour EU data-based companies at the expense of US giants and ultimately make EU tech companies major players on the global data stage.

The document adds: “The EU should create an attractive policy environment so that, by 2030, the EU’s share of the data economy – data stored, processed and put to valuable use in Europe – at least corresponds to its economic weight.”

One of the biggest changes will be to overhaul EU competition law to allow data-sharing between the EU’s largest companies, paving the way for them to build the huge quantities of data that have driven the growth of the US giants.

Google, Facebook and other US firms could also benefit from this so long as they operate in the EU and abide by EU law, but the plan also aims to foster greater government-to-business data sharing.

Ultimately, the policy document outlines how Brussels wants to overcome barriers to data sharing within the EU, how it wants to improve the EU’s digital infrastructure, and how it wants to create interoperability standards.

Overall, these moves will drive the growth of the European data space and with it EU-based companies.

This will be helped by a separate proposal designed to boost the bloc’s adoption of artificial intelligence, seen by most as vital for data-crunching.

The AI white paper reveals that the Commission will investigate introducing some exemptions for the use of personally identifying facial recognition and other biometric data, which is currently prohibited under EU law.

The Commission has now opened consultations on both documents, which will form part of the new Data Act, which it plans to introduce in 2021. With Brexit done and dusted, UK companies are unlikely to benefit.

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