As part of its strategy for the Digital Single Market, the European Commission has announced in January 2017 the preparation of several initiatives to develop a data-driven European economy.
While the Council supports the launch of a European initiative to promote the free flow of data in Europe, it considers that the barriers to its movement are caused by the lock-in strategies developed by prominent economic actors rather than by national legislations. Thus, the Commission should primarily investigate the means to bring about an open data environment, promoting competition and the diffusion of innovation capacities.
Two additional papers were published by the Council on free flow of data issues:
Abolishing data localisation restrictions
Two main risks have been identified by the Council. First of all the launch of an initiative that would fail its objective. Only a very small amount of data is in fact affected by legal rules and data localisation is mainly due to user preferences. Second of all, such an initiative might be unconsidered at this stage. It is indeed still necessary to define solid guarantees for data communication and control by public authorities, as well as for the harmonization of security standards. It is necessary to define a global framework, so as to organize a secured free flow of data that is truly favorable to entreprises. In order to do so, the data flows must be integrated into a general framework made of guarantees concerning security standards and access conditions for public authorities.
Right to non-personal data portability
The French Digital Council supports the enshrining of a portability right for non-personal data. In a platform economy, data is at the heart of market power and value-creation. Mastering data notably allows the safeguard of dominant positions on certain markets. In this regard, it seems necessary to create new tools to foster the development of an innovation-friendly European data economy.
The data portability right will enable enterprises to entirely recall the data they generated and stocked and/or processed using a cloud computing service and to transfer it to another service provider. Hence, it is first and foremost a competition and innovation tool for the European cloud market. It also aims at giving companies the control over their data. The right would enable to fight against the negative consequences of lock-in strategies and value losses by allowing the development of internal or of sector-level services. Lastly, thanks to portability new third party services based on the cross-referencing of multiple data sources could be developed.