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Agreement reached on EU in-vehicle data access law

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International | Legal
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Negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have reached a provisional agreement on the proposed European Data Act that would regulate how data generated by connected vehicles and other objects can be accessed and shared.

In the U.S., federal legislators have brought up the issue through the re-introduction of the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act (H.R. 906). Supporters claim the legislation would ensure access to “all tools and equipment; wireless transmission of repair and diagnostic data; and access to on-board diagnostic and telematic systems needed to repair a vehicle.”

The bill hasn’t moved past introduction, which took place in February.

According to the Council of the EU, the Data Act would apply to all economic sectors and aims to:

    • “Ensure fairness in the allocation of value from data among actors in the digital environment;
    • “Stimulate a competitive data market;
    • “Open opportunities for data-driven innovation;
    • “Make data more accessible to all;
    • “Ease the transfer of data between processing services providers;
    • “Put in place safeguards against unlawful data transfer by cloud service providers; and
    • “Provides for the development of interoperability standards for data to be reused between sectors.”

“The data act will give both individuals and businesses more control over their data through a reinforced portability right, copying or transferring data easily from across different services [and] where the data are generated through smart objects, machines, and devices,” the Council wrote on its website. “The new legislation will empower consumers and companies by giving them a say on what can be done with the data generated by their connected products.

“The new rules will also allow customers to effectively switch between different data-processing service providers (cloud providers) and put in place additional safeguards against unlawful data transfers.”

The next step is for the provisional agreement to be endorsed then reviewed and adopted by the Council and the European Parliament.

Parliament said in a news release on the agreement that parliament members (MEPs) ensured the Data Act “places the cloud service customers at the centre and enables them to negotiate contracts, to avoid being ‘locked in’ with a provider.”

The legislation will also allow users access to the data they generate as 80% of industrial data collected are never used, according to the European Commission.

“The Data Act is a game-changer,” said Lead MEP Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP, ES). “Having data on the functioning of industrial equipment will allow factories, farms, and construction companies to optimise operational cycles, production lines and supply chain management. The Data Act will create a new data-agile system that enables easy access to an almost infinite amount of high-quality data. It will be instrumental in optimising existing business models and processes, boost the development of new ones, and create new value. In other words, an opportunity for innovation and competitiveness.”

CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers — which is an EU parts supplier and trade association organization — views regulation on the generation and collection of vehicle data to operate and monitor systems as having “huge potential to improve and develop new services for the benefit of consumers.”

“However, automotive suppliers and other third-party service providers currently rely on the willingness and conditions of a limited group of market players to provide access to this data,” CLEPA wrote on June 29, the day after the agreement was reached. “Such a level of control on the market carries the risk of creating “gatekeepers,” with a detrimental effect on fair competition, innovation, and consumer choice. Both personal cars and commercial trucks are affected by this issue.”

While CLEPA said last week it hasn’t reviewed the final agreement in detail, it expects the “horizontal legislation will be an important first step towards improving the situation by ensuring that third parties can provide innovative services to the end user.”

“Moreover, the association welcomes that this legislative text puts the consumer at the centre and imposes obligations on data holders,” CLEPA wrote. “Nevertheless, the Data Act alone will be insufficient to fully address the complexities of the deployment of data-based services in the automotive sector. Therefore, we strongly advocate for the swift publication of the proposal for a complementing sector-specific regulation, which is currently being drafted by the European Commission and has been publicly confirmed. The Parliament and Council made the Data Act a priority and managed to conclude complex discussions in a very short time period. We now call on the Commission to dedicate the same effort towards the sector-specific legislation and publish its proposal by the end of the summer.”

CLEPA Secretary General Benjamin Krieger said the Commission’s prompt publication of the proposal will improve competition, boost innovation capabilities for thousands of automotive supply companies, and will protect consumer rights and choice.

“The technical work and discussions behind this legislation have been going on for years,” he said. “It is now time for the proposal to be finalised and published.”

More on CLEPA’s views of in-vehicle data access and regulations can be found in its position paper that was published earlier this year.

In the paper, CLEPA details why the Data Act “will not ensure a level playing field for the use and sharing of in-vehicle data, and how the current absence of regulation is impacting companies and consumers, with recommendations on key aspects needed for a successful sector-specific regulation.”


Featured image credit: 35007/iStock

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