Prelims cum Mains

In the works, an EU data strategy with echoes across the world

In News

  • The European Commission has released European strategy for data and a white paper on artificial intelligence, to ensure the human-centric development of Artificial Intelligence.
  • The new documents present a timeline for various projects, legislative frameworks, and initiatives by the European Union.
  • The release follows a series of meetings between US Silicon Valley executives (like senior executives of Google and Facebook) and Brussels regulators.
  • Facebook even released its own proposal for content regulation after its CEO met with officials in Europe. However, it was rejected by the European regulators, who criticised Facebook’s proposed Internet rules as insufficient. It was further stated that Facebook has to adapt to Europe’s standards and not the other way round.


Significance of data

  • Data is at the core of digital transformation and shapes the way the world produces, consumes and lives. Access to ever-growing volume of data and the ability to use it are essential for innovation and growth.
  • Data-driven innovation can bring major and concrete benefits to citizens through, personalised medicine, improved mobility, better policymaking and upgrading public services.


EU data strategy


  • The strategy states that, EU has the potential to be successful in the data economy and has the technology, the know-how and a highly skilled workforce.
  • However, competitors such as China and the US are already innovating quickly and projecting their concepts of data access and use across the globe.
  • With American and Chinese companies taking the lead on technological innovation, Europe is keen to improve its own competitiveness.

Objective of the strategy:

  • The objective of the European data strategy is to make sure the EU becomes a role model and a leader for a society empowered by data.
  • For this, it aims at setting up a true European data space, a single market for data where
    • Data can flow within the EU and across sectors, for the benefit of all.
    • European rules, in particular privacy and data protection, as well as competition law, are fully respected.
    • The rules for access and use of data are fair, practical and clear

The roadmap of the strategy:

  • The blueprint hopes to strengthen Europe’s local technology market by creating a “data single market” by 2030 to allow the free flow of data within the EU.
  • To aid a “data-agile economy”, the Commission hopes to implement a legislative framework for the governance of common European data spaces by the second half of this year.
  • By the beginning of 2021, the Commission will make high-value public sector data available free, through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which is a path for two different applications to speak to each other.
  • Between 2021 and 2027, the Commission will invest in a High Impact Project to give further push to data infrastructure. Several other initiatives are laid out, including a cloud services marketplace.


Similar moves in India

  • In 2012, the Union Cabinet of India had approved the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP). As part of the initiative, the government worked with the US government to release, a site of government data for public use.
  • Just as the EU’s strategy discusses “data for public good”, there was a chapter in the Economic Survey of 2028 titled “Data ‘Of the People, By the People, For the People”, which advocated that the government should step in to sectors that private players ignore.
  • Similar data integration efforts have been announced or implemented by NITI Aayog (the National Data & Analytics Platform), the Smart Cities Mission (India Urban Data Exchange), and the Ministry of Rural Development (DISHA dashboard).
  • In 2018, the National Informatics Centre worked with PwC and other vendors to create a Centre of Excellence for Data Analytics aimed at providing data analysis help to government departments.
  • The Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill is also being discussed in a Joint Select Committee in the Parliament of India. Some of the movement around the PDP Bill comes from a desire to strengthen India’s own data economy, similar to the EU’s desire.
  • The recent draft of the PDP introduced a clause on non-personal data, making it compulsory for entities to hand over such data to the government when asked for it.


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