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Policy Proposals  Industrial Technology Comments on the European Commission's
"A European strategy for data"

May 30, 2020

Subcommittee on Digital Economy

Japan has proposed Society 5.0 as its concept for the future society, with the aim of realizing economic growth and solving social problems by making full use of digital technology and data. The government and the private sector are working together toward this goal.

To realize Society 5.0, it is essential to formulate consistent rules backed by a global consensus that facilitate the secure use of data across national borders. Therefore, all countries must pay attention to ensuring a balance between the consumers' values, protection of privacy, and public interest while deepening international cooperation in order to build international systems and mechanisms for the free flow and utilization of data across national boundaries.

From this standpoint, we would like to give the following comments on "A European strategy for data" released by the European Commission on February 19, 2020:

1. Introduction

Page 1, paragraph 4

"Ultimately, Europe aims to capture the benefits of better use of data, including greater productivity and competitive markets, but also improvements in health and well-being, environment, transparent governance and convenient public services."

Our comments
  • Given that many entities, both inside and outside the EU, are involved with the economic and social activities within the EU, data sharing and cooperation with both EU and non-EU entities is important in data utilization. Therefore, it is necessary to give greater emphasis to the importance of international cooperation, bearing in mind that strong collaboration with Japan and other non-EU countries will contribute to the EU's economy and public services. Moreover, discussions on the various frameworks cited in this strategy should incorporate the opinions of various stakeholders.

  • In particular, it is necessary to build a system for cooperation with non-EU entities for the flexible utilization and exchange of health and other data in an emergency, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

3. The vision

Page 5, paragraph 5

"the rules for access to and use of data are fair, practical and clear, and there are clear and trustworthy data governance mechanisms in place; there is an open, but assertive approach to international data flows, based on European values."

Our comment
  • Free flow of data across national borders is important for the people to take full advantage of the benefits of digital services. Mutual access to data for the mutual enhancement of value should be the premise of this discussion.

5. The strategy

A. A cross-sectoral governance framework for data access and use
Page 12, paragraph 3

"In line with this principle, a first priority for operationalising the vision is to put in place an enabling legislative framework for the governance of common European data spaces (Q4 2020). Such governance structures should support decisions on what data can be used in which situations, facilitate cross-border data use, and prioritise interoperability requirements and standards within and across sectors, while taking into account the need for sectoral authorities to specify sectoral requirements."

Our comments
  • The development of a governance framework for European data spaces must take care not to create unnecessary barriers to the participation of non-EU businesses and aim at positive interoperability with data utilization efforts in non-EU countries.

  • Centralizing the management of European data spaces in the European Commission and other specific organizations may render those spaces vulnerable to cyberattacks. Furthermore, the concentration of authority over data management may hinder flexible data utilization. What European data spaces should be like needs to be examined in terms of management using distributed data sharing technology through blockchains and other technological innovations and of operation with decentralized authority.

Page 13, paragraph 1

"facilitate decisions on which data can be used, how and by whom for scientific research purposes in a manner compliant with the GDPR. This is particularly relevant for publicly-held databases with sensitive data not covered by the Open Data Directive;"

Our comment
  • Attention must be paid to preventing undue obstacles to data access by non-EU users, such as charging fees for access to public institutions' databases for scientific research purposes.

Page 13, paragraph 3

"In order to open up key public sector reference data sets for innovation, it shall start the procedure for the adoption of an Implementing act on high-value data sets (Q1 2021) under the Open Data Directive, making these data sets available across the EU for free, in machine-readable format and through standardised Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)."

Our comments
  • In opening up data held by public institutions, data utilization should not be hindered by setting additional standards for non-EU users, and the goal should be reciprocal data utilization with non-EU entities.

  • In order to promote the utilization of high-value data sets, utilization rules should be uniform and clear across the EU, and data should be made accessible through APIs, as cited in this strategy.

Page 13, paragraph 5

"Foster business-to-government data sharing for the public interest also in the light of the recommendations included in the report of the Expert Group on Business-to-Government Data Sharing)."

Our comment
  • The scope of "public interest" should be limited, and should be made clear to avoid uncertainty among businesses.

Page 13, paragraph 6

"support business-to-business data sharing, in particular addressing issues related to usage rights for co-generated data (such as IoT data in industrial settings), typically laid down in private contracts. The Commission will also seek to identify and address any undue existing hurdles hindering data sharing and to clarify rules for the responsible use of data (such as legal liability). The general principle shall be to facilitate voluntary data sharing."

Our comment
  • In clarifying the rules on business-to-business data sharing, consideration should be given not to hinder voluntary data sharing.

Page 13, paragraph 7

"only where specific circumstances so dictate,39 access to data should be made compulsory, where appropriate under fair, transparent, reasonable, proportionate and/or non-discriminatory conditions."

Footnote 39
"A data access right should only be sector-specific and only given if a market failure in this sector is identified/can be foreseen, which competition law cannot solve. The scope of a data access right should take into account legitimate interests of the data holder and needs to respect the legal framework."

Our comment
  • As stated in paragraph 6 on page 13, data sharing should be voluntary and there should be no increased regulation. In cases where access to data is made compulsory, the targets should be limited and clearly delineated.

Page 14, 4th paragraph

"The Commission will also consider jurisdictional issues related to data. These issues create uncertainty for businesses which may face conflicting rules. The EU should not compromise on its principles: all companies which sell goods or provide services related to the data-agile economy in the EU must respect EU legislation and this should not be compromised by jurisdictional claims from outside the EU."

Our comment
  • There should be certain restrictions for extraterritorial application of EU law. We would like to confirm our understanding that data on servers in Japan will be handled under Japanese domestic law (Act on the Protection of Personal Information) under the adequacy decision.

Page 14, last paragraph

"On the basis of this fact-finding, the Commission will consider how best to address more systemic issues related to platforms and data, including by ex ante regulation if appropriate, to ensure that markets stay open and fair."

Our comment
  • The targets must be clearly defined in the regulation of platform providers to ensure predictability for businesses, and there should be no unnecessary regulations that hinder innovation in digital technologies.

B. Enablers: Investments in data and strengthening Europe's capabilities and infrastructures for hosting, processing and using data, interoperability
Page 18, paragraph 3

"In order to protect the rights and interests of EU companies and citizens, the Commission, with the support of the relevant authorities of the Member States, will pay particular attention to the adherence of cloud service providers operating on the EU market to EU rules (e.g. General Data Protection Regulation, Free Flow of non-personal Data Regulation and the Cybersecurity Act) and, where relevant, their envisaged implementation through self- and co-regulatory mechanisms and technological means to increase trust, such as security by design and automated compliance. . . . In this context, the Commission will bring together by Q2 2022 a coherent framework around the different applicable rules (including self-regulation) for cloud services, in the form of a ‘cloud rulebook’."

Our comment
  • The cloud rulebook must clarify which entities are expected to self-regulate or co-regulate.

Page 19, paragraph 1

"The set-up of a cloud services marketplace for EU users from the private and public sector will be facilitated by the Commission by Q4 2022."

Our comment
  • In order to facilitate the provision of a broad range of services to users in the cloud services marketplace, the participation of non-EU businesses must not be hindered.

D. Common European data spaces in strategic sectors and domains of public interest
Page 22, paragraph 3

"Building on the ongoing experience with the research community with the European Open Science Cloud, the Commission will also support the establishment of the following nine common European data spaces:"

Our comment
  • While actively promoting the horizontal expansion of the achievements of the advanced areas, efforts in other areas should be undertaken in sequence.

6. An open, but proactive international approach

Page 24, paragraph 2

"To this end, the Commission will create a European analytical framework for measuring data flows (Q4 2021). This should be a durable framework that provides the tools to conduct a continuous analysis of data flows and the economic development of the EU's data processing sector, including a robust methodology, economic valuation and data flows collection mechanisms. . . . The Commission will therefore seek in due course cooperation with relevant financial and international organisations on the data flow measurement framework (e.g. EIB, EBRD, OECD, IMF)."

Our comment
  • The envisioned analytical framework for measuring data flow, its methodology, and the implementing organizations should be made clear. Furthermore, since data exchanges take place both inside and outside the EU, non-EU entities should be involved in the deliberation on this framework.

Page 24, paragraph 3

"Companies from around the world will be welcome to avail of the European data space, subject to compliance with applicable standards, including those developed relative to data sharing."

Our comment
  • Standards to facilitate the active participation of the relevant non-EU entities are necessary.


4. Common European health data space
Page 30, paragraph 2

"These actions will support prevention, diagnosis and treatment (in particular for cancer, rare diseases and common and complex diseases), research and innovation, policy-making and regulatory activities of Member States in the area of public health."

Our comment
  • Emerging infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, should be included in the examples of the targets for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Industrial Technology