Towards a European Strategy on Business-To-Government Data Sharing for the Public Interest
Final report prepared by the High-Level Expert Group on Business-to-Government Data Sharing European Commission, 2020
116 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2020 Last revised: 2 Nov 2020
Date Written: October 16, 2020
Data is increasingly regarded as an essential infrastructural resource for economic growth, innovation and the overall wellbeing of society. Thanks to our enhanced capability to collect, process and use data, we are able to know where the epicentre of an earthquake is, how to limit a pandemic such as Zika from spreading or even how to reduce pollution in cities.
This data ‘revolution’ must be contextualised within a broader, 3-centurylong attempt to neutralise irrationality in human decisionmaking by gaining increased access to information. Yet, while virtually every organisation today, including small companies or grassroots movements, is a data entity, only a few of them (generally in the private sector) have collected vast amounts of data (be it personal or non-personal) and acquired a unique capability to make sense of such information.
As a result, most of this much-prized data is in the hands of businesses, not of public authorities, with the latter lagging behind in embracing the power of data to inform their daily policies and service-delivery actions. Hence the challenge — entrusted by the European Commission to our expert group — to explore the creation of an enabling environment for privately held data to be shared with (or at least be accessible to) public authorities in complying with their public-interest missions. For the time being, most of the efforts focus on getting the supply-side ready (e.g. by developing data-sharing models, de-risking data sharing or re-skilling personnel) for B2G data sharing, but omit the need to sensitise and prepare the demand side (the public authorities). More critically, at a time in which reputation-based mechanisms transcend the mere financial rating and venture into state-driven ‘social credit’ scoring, the role that citizens play in the data-sharing equation remains limited and ancillary to most of the solutions at stake.
This report, which has benefited from the experience and dedication of 23 experts coming from different walks of life, strives to address both of these systemic shortcomings. By carving out a role to play for both the public sector and citizens, it offers an initial set of ethically-aware paths the EU might chart to break new ground in advancing and accompanying B2G data sharing. The hope is that by following some of this expert advice the EU might become a global leader in fostering not only a market for B2G data access, but also a sensible, inclusive and participatory data culture through a set of viable, practicable and scalable welfare-enhancing solutions. Only a more cautious, humble and humanised approach to the unprecedented amount of data we produce and collect every day may pave the way for a future in which it is the human factor that defines our daily life experiences.
Keywords: Data, data governance, data sharing, data risk, data invisible, risk governance, philanthropy, data philanthropy, big data
JEL Classification: K23, K32, K40, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation