(Published on 18.05.2022) The Data Act of the European Union is to regulate the accessibility of data in the future. As part of a feedback procedure, the ELSA (Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects) section in the NFDI association has submitted an opinion on the draft law. This statement at EU level is the first of an NFDI section.

The Data Act aims to increase accessibility to data in order to promote innovation and fairness in the digital environment[1] and to better exploit the potential of the constantly created data sets. So far – according to the EU Commission – 80% of industrial data is not used due to legal, technical and economic barriers.

The Data Act is intended to provide access to data created through the use of networked devices. Public bodies and research institutions will also be granted facilitated access to data for scientific purposes under certain circumstances. On this point in particular, the NFDI section ELSA has submitted a statement in the current feedback procedure of the EU Commission. You can find it here: Feedback from: Nationale Forschungsdateninfrastruktur (NFDI) e.V. (europa.eu)

NFDI welcomes the proposed legislation, but sees a need for clarification in four aspects in particular:

  • The relationship between the EU Data Act (DA) and the EU Data Governance Act (DGA) is not clear, e.g. with regard to the processing of personal data (see the requirements on profiling under Art. 6 lit. b) DA in the context of Art. 18(5) DA.
  • The DA creates data access in the public interest for public authorities and research institutions in “exceptional” situations, although many of the crises are ongoing and require continuous data access in order to prevent dangers.
  • The possibility of public authorities sharing data with research institutions is not fully comprehensible, because research institutions can also be public authorities. Clearer definitions and delimitations are needed here.
  • The DA contains a purpose limitation of the data, i.e. the data may not be used for any other purpose than stated in the consent. The extent to which scientific publications are compatible with the original purpose has not been clarified, so that a clarifying provision such as in Art. 5(1)(b) of the GDPR would provide more (legal) certainty in favour of scientific research.

You can download the complete statement on the page of the European Commission.


About the section ELSA:

The section deals with the ethical, social and legal issues of research data management and prepares proposals for cross-consortium guidelines and legal standards. The issues are diverse, because personal research data are collected, processed or archived on the one hand, and on the other hand, data or artefacts are used in which persons or organisations have exploitation rights. The section’s task is therefore to prepare complex topics in a generally understandable way, e.g. also to evaluate methods and tools for anonymisation or different licensing options for data. The topics are addressed in working groups – also in cooperation with other stakeholders, NFDI consortia or other sections.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/de/ip_22_1113

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