The European Union’s Data Act, proposed Wednesday, is all about making it easier for people and smaller companies to share data and switch the services they use. The act would allow people to access data they create when using connected devices and share it with third parties.
Consider it the latest example of the EU pushing to give the little people more control over the information they generate, while the U.S. still struggles to pass federal privacy legislation. But while the proposal could help people receive more value from the data they generate, it also seems to maintain a status quo in which tech devices and services gather more and more of it.
The approach taken in the Data Act could bode well for data intermediaries -- digital agents or fiduciaries that would serve as agents or conduits between people and businesses collecting their data, or between businesses and their partners. The intermediary concept is gaining steam in the EU and across the globe. It would also ease much-maligned vendor lock-in, helping companies switch between different cloud providers.
While some lobbyists are already opposing it, arguing it will add more compliance burdens, companies including IBM came out in support of the act.
“IBM is a strong promoter of an Open Hybrid Multicloud approach, which enables customers to use the Cloud vendor of their choice,” the company wrote in a blog post yesterday, adding, “We believe cloud switching should focus on preventing customer lock-in issues in the cloud sector, and focus on customer’s access to tools that allow customers to port their data.”
The Act is just a proposal, but tech providers and their lawyers are already bracing for big changes. For instance, makers of tech devices such as IoT products would need to design them to enable easy data access for EU customers.