The European Union is actively pursuing a digital transformation agenda that encompasses various aspects including Big Data, generative AI, cloud computing, IoTs, 5G connections, and cybersecurity. Central to this agenda is the recognition of the importance of data management and access to data as key drivers of innovation and growth. To support these goals, the EU has introduced several legislative initiatives, with some already implemented and others under consultation, including the following:
* The Data Governance Act (“DGA”), which is in force since May 2022, establishes a legal framework for mandatory data sharing within the European single market, promoting data access and interoperability. This Act constitutes a crucial initiative that could pave the way for numerous new data sources that, exploited by businesses and researchers, could significantly boost innovation and research.
* The proposal for a Data Act (“Data Act”) which is still under consultation, sets out new rules on who can use and access data in the EU across all economic sectors. The Act aims to allow users of interconnected devices (IoTs) to gain access and rights to the data generated or stored by these devices.
* Another crucial initiative is the Artificial Intelligence Act (”AIA”), which seeks to establish a comprehensive framework for the responsible use of artificial intelligence within the EU. Significantly, with the rise of generative AI, governments and regulators around the world are trying to address the issue of better balancing the rights of AI developers and intellectual property rights holders. Consequently, in May 2023, the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Civil Liberties Committees adopted a draft negotiating mandate, which contained several proposed amendments to the European Commission’s original draft of the AI Act. The proposed amendments include a few transparency requirements for generative AI providers following a risk-based approach, whereby obligations are imposed on providers and users of AI systems based on the level of relative risk. It also introduces obligations such as disclosing AI-generated content, designing models to prevent the generation of illegal content, and publishing summaries of copyrighted data used for training. Violations of the AI rules may result in fines of up to €10 million or 2% of annual turnover. However, these proposals are part of a draft negotiating mandate that requires endorsement by the full European Parliament before negotiations with the Council on the final form of the AI Act can commence. The outcome of this process and the ultimate form of these proposals are yet to be determined.
* The Digital Services Act aims to provide better protection to users and to fundamental rights online and to establish a powerful transparency and accountability framework for online platforms. The Digital Services Act applies to a wide range of online intermediaries, which include services such as internet service providers, cloud services, messaging, marketplaces, or social networks. The most far-reaching rules in the Digital Services Act focus on very large online platforms, which have a significant societal and economic impact, reaching at least 45 million users in the EU (representing 10% of the population).
* The Digital Markets Act focuses on imposing new rules on digital platforms with significant market share, known as gatekeepers, to ensure openness, fair competition, transparency, and accountability. Although the European Commission has not mentioned companies by name, the proposed criteria mostly apply to tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft among others, since they each provide a core platform service that has more than 45 million monthly active end users established or located in the EU and more than 10,000 active business users.
In conclusion, as Europe is seeking to establish a digital transformation, competition is emerging from other global players such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan, which are also trying to gain a competitive advantage in the digital market. This demonstrates that digital transformation represents a significant business opportunity for Europe and its Member States as well as for third parties. Data management and digitization constitute a growing and dynamic “economy”, which the European Union has welcomed very well.
The Editorial Team