The European Data Protection Supervisor adopted Opinion 3/2020 on the European strategy for data.
The Strategy has been published by the European Commission on 19 February 2020 and is part of a wider package of strategic documents, including also a Communication on Shaping Europe’s digital future and a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence.
The EDPS supports the wider strategic objectives of the European Union, such as the development of the Digital Single Market and the EU’s digital sovereignty. At the same time, he recalls that “big data comes with big responsibility” and therefore appropriate data protection safeguards must be in place.
In this regard, the EDPS welcomes the Commission’s commitment to ensure that European fundamental rights and values, including the right to the protection of personal data, underpin all aspects of the Strategy. In particular, he appreciates the assurance that the Strategy would be developed and implemented in full compliance with the GDPR, which provides a solid, technologically neutral basis.
The EDPS strongly believes that one of the most important objectives of the Data Strategy should be to prove the viability and sustainability of an alternative vision for the digital economy – open, fair and democratic. Unlike the current business models, characterised by unprecedented concentration of data in a handful of powerful players, as well as pervasive tracking, the common European data space should serve as an example of transparency, effective accountability and proper balance between the interests of the individuals and the shared interest of the society as a whole.
The EDPS also notes in the Opinion that the EU institutions, offices and agencies are important actors in the data economy on their own – as providers of data (e.g. through EU Open Data Portal), users of data (e.g. for better policymaking), or as service providers (e.g. the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure). Therefore, as the supervisory authority monitoring the personal data processing by all Union institutions and bodies, the EDPS considers that the Data Strategy and its subsequent implementation should take due account of their specific role, ensure the necessary transparency and legal certainty and, ultimately, live up to promise to be “leading by example”.