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Measures for a fair and innovative data economy in the EU

The volume of data is constantly growing, from 33 zettabytes generated in 2018 to 175 zettabytes expected in 2025. It is an untapped potential, 80% of industrial data is never used. The main goal of the proposed new rules (the Data Act) on who can use and access data generated in the EU across all economic sectors is ensuring fairness in the digital environment, stimulating a competitive data market, opening opportunities for data-driven innovation and making data more accessible for all.

On the one hand, unlocking a wealth of industrial data in Europe will benefit businesses, consumers and public services, while on the other hand, the Data Act also aims to give consumers and companies even more control over what can be done with their data, clarifying who can access data and on what terms.

The proposal for the Data Act includes measures to allow users of connected devices to gain access to data generated by them (which is often exclusively harvested by manufacturers); measures to  shield SMEs from unfair contractual terms imposed by a party with a significantly stronger bargaining position due to unfair data-sharing contracts; means for public sector bodies to access and use data held by the private sector that is necessary for exceptional circumstances, particularly in case of a public emergency; and finally new rules allowing customers to effectively switch between different cloud data-processing services providers and putting in place safeguards against unlawful data transfer. In addition to the above, the Data Act reviews certain aspects of the Database Directive, which was created in the 1990s to protect investments in the structured presentation of data.

The Data Act is the last horizontal building block of the Commission’s data strategy originated back in February 2020. As it will result in new, innovative services and more competitive prices for aftermarket services and repairs of connected objects, it will play a major role in the digital transformation, as set out in the 2030 digital objectives.