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EU mulling a ‘single data market’ to challenge big tech firms’ dominance on data: Report

The European Commission is considering measures such as opening-up more public data, and scrapping rules that hinder data sharing within the bloc, in order to create a single European data space, a genuine single market for data,” Reuters reported. The Commission is expected to present a 25-page report outlining these measures on February 19, it said. These proposals reportedly aim to capitalise on “Europe’s vast quantities” of industrial and professional data and technological innovation and strives “to create a single European data space, a genuine single market for data”. The document said that a handful of big tech firms hold a large part of the world’s data, which is a deterrent to data-driven businesses to emerge and expand, Reuters said. “By capitalising on Europe’s vast quantities of industrial and professional data and technological innovation, the bloc can surge ahead,” the document reportedly said.

How the single data market will look like: Some of the proposed measures as part of this endeavour reportedly include:

  • Opening up more public data on geospatial, the environment, meteorology, statistics.
  • Opening up companies’ data, across the bloc, free of cost for the companies.
  • Scrapping relevant competition rules that hinder data sharing.
  • New rules covering cross-border data use and data interoperability.
  • Standards related to manufacturing, climate change, auto industry, healthcare, financial services, agriculture and energy.
  • Might also introduce rules to prevent large online platforms from unilaterally imposing conditions for access and use of data or a disproportionate benefit from data.

EU’s scrutiny of big tech: This is not the first time that the EU has taken regulatory steps that have affected or might affect tech giants.

  • In December 2019, antitrust regulators of the European Union (EU) were seeking details of Google’s data collection practices. The focus of the investigation was reportedly on data related to local search, online advertisement targeting, login services, web browsers, and others.
  • In October 2019, The European Court of Justice had ruled that individual member countries can order Facebook and other platforms to remove illegal content, and copies of such illegal content, and limit access to it worldwide.
  • In March 2019, the European Commission had fined Google €1.49 billion, or 1.29% of Google’s turnover in 2018, for breaching EU antitrust rules. The commission said that Google abused its market dominance by placing restrictions on third-party websites which prevented Google’s rivals from placing ads on the websites.

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