Joint GSMA–ETNO comment on the adoption of the European Parliament and Council of the EU mandate to negotiate on the Data Act

Europe’s telecommunication industry welcomes the Data Act and supports the objective of fostering data sharing and re-use across sectors and national borders in the single market. However, as the European Commission states in the proposal, the regulation needs to strike a delicate balance between opening access to potentially valuable data sets, while preserving economic incentives to innovate and invest in connected products and related services, and the data driven economy.

The GSMA and ETNO recognises the efforts undertaken by the European Parliament and Council of the EU on finalising their respective positions on the Data Act during March. However, as we look ahead to the start of trialogue discussions we reiterate the need for a careful balance and note that speed in the negotiations should not come at the expense of proportionate and well thought out policy making. To this end we highlight a number of important outstanding areas in the text which should be addressed:

  • Business to Government data sharing: Emphasis on accessing privately held data in emergency situations should be on making available the data in a timely manner. However, the right to recover actual cost of data sharing in these circumstances, for example for pseudonymization of data, should not be restricted. Outside of these narrowly prescribed circumstances of emergency situations, it is crucial that data sharing, including for the production of official statistics, is based on negotiated commercial terms.
  • Business to Business data sharing: We welcome improvements which enable data-sharing while better protecting trade secrets and users’ privacy, and we strongly support clarifications that exempt Electronic Communication Services from the definition of a ‘related service’. We strongly recommend focusing the scope of data sharing obligations to products and services (incl. virtual assistants) that are provided by or on behalf of the product manufacturer.
  • Switching between Data Processing Services: We welcome improvements, but caution that the implementation of these provisions should be technically feasible. We support changes that balance the introduction of a general notice period against the possibility of the provider and a customer to individually agree on long-term contractual commitments. However, we are concerned that the current texts do not differentiate between a source provider of a data processing service and resellers of such services. We therefore urge the co-legislators to consider adding a provision which would enable resellers to adequately ensure the implementation of the switching process vis-à-vis the source provider of the cloud service in use.

We encourage co-legislators to take notice of these points during negotiations, and to keep in mind the intended purpose of the legislation.

For more information please contact:

Elizabeth Wiltshire

Manager, EU Affairs, GSMA

Elizabeth Wiltshire is the Manager for EU Affairs at GSMA, focusing on Digital Economy across Europe, including files on artificial intelligence and data. She is also an Associate Fellow on future technologies, with an interest in digital rights and digital inclusion, at the Institute for Global Change.

Prior to joining GSMA, Elizabeth worked across sectors and levels of governance on digital and space policy, as well as digital democracy and democratic innovation. She holds a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Sussex.

Outside of work, Elizabeth sits on the management committee and is event lead at The Brussels Binder – a charity working for intersectional gender equality in the workplace, including an end to all-male panels, across Europe.

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