Towards a Holistic Regulatory Approach for the European Data Economy: Why the Illusive Notion of Non-Personal Data is Counterproductive to Data Innovation

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Abstract

The European Data Economy initiative is built on the belief that the current regulatory environment is not capable of unleashing the full potential of the data-driven economy. The initiative focuses on "non-personal data" as a way to complement data protection rules that regulate the processing of personal data. The article argues that the notion of non-personal data as a starting-point for new data innovation policies is counterproductive for three fundamental reasons: datasets are often mixed and the boundaries of personal data are too fluid to act as regulatory anchor; having two separate regimes applicable to mixed datasets might lead to strategic behaviour of firms exploiting this regulatory rivalry; and data has economic value irrespective of its legal classification, and there is no evidence that an elusive zone of non-personal data is more essential as innovation input. We conclude that a holistic approach to "data" as such, which a priori incorporates data protection considerations in its design, is more likely to deliver a successful innovation policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-621
JournalEuropean Law Review
Volume44
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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personal data
innovation
economy
data protection
innovation policy
economic value
holistic approach
regime
firm

Keywords

  • Data processing
  • Data protection
  • EU law
  • Innovation
  • Personal data

Cite this

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title = "Towards a Holistic Regulatory Approach for the European Data Economy: Why the Illusive Notion of Non-Personal Data is Counterproductive to Data Innovation",
abstract = "The European Data Economy initiative is built on the belief that the current regulatory environment is not capable of unleashing the full potential of the data-driven economy. The initiative focuses on {"}non-personal data{"} as a way to complement data protection rules that regulate the processing of personal data. The article argues that the notion of non-personal data as a starting-point for new data innovation policies is counterproductive for three fundamental reasons: datasets are often mixed and the boundaries of personal data are too fluid to act as regulatory anchor; having two separate regimes applicable to mixed datasets might lead to strategic behaviour of firms exploiting this regulatory rivalry; and data has economic value irrespective of its legal classification, and there is no evidence that an elusive zone of non-personal data is more essential as innovation input. We conclude that a holistic approach to {"}data{"} as such, which a priori incorporates data protection considerations in its design, is more likely to deliver a successful innovation policy.",
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AU - Husovec, Martin

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AB - The European Data Economy initiative is built on the belief that the current regulatory environment is not capable of unleashing the full potential of the data-driven economy. The initiative focuses on "non-personal data" as a way to complement data protection rules that regulate the processing of personal data. The article argues that the notion of non-personal data as a starting-point for new data innovation policies is counterproductive for three fundamental reasons: datasets are often mixed and the boundaries of personal data are too fluid to act as regulatory anchor; having two separate regimes applicable to mixed datasets might lead to strategic behaviour of firms exploiting this regulatory rivalry; and data has economic value irrespective of its legal classification, and there is no evidence that an elusive zone of non-personal data is more essential as innovation input. We conclude that a holistic approach to "data" as such, which a priori incorporates data protection considerations in its design, is more likely to deliver a successful innovation policy.

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KW - EU law

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