The Data Act proposal is a good first step in promoting a level playing field, but should be complemented by sector-specific legislation
The European Commission published yesterday its proposal for a Data Act, a regulation which aims at facilitating B2B data sharing to open new opportunities for innovation and competition in the digital environment, and to ensure that data-based services can be offered at competitive prices in the mobility service market. The Data Act will have a direct impact on automotive suppliers with regards to access to in-vehicle data and resources, where vehicle manufacturers currently have complete control over the data flow to and from connected vehicles.
CLEPA welcomes the Commission’s proposal and supports its objective to remove obstacles to data sharing in the interest of European businesses and consumers. The Data Act will provide guidance for the automotive sector by setting fundamental principles, rights, and obligations for users, data holders, and third-party service providers. The proposal also sets very important FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) conditions to prevent discriminatory competitive behaviour, including with regards to pricing. Nevertheless, there are further issues which will need to be considered in a sector-specific regulation, for example transparency on and the specification of available data by a specific vehicle, or the access to vehicle displays or audio systems.
In this regard, we welcome the confirmation – from Executive Vice-President and Commissioner Breton during the Data Act press conference – that such a sector-specific legislation is under preparation. It is very positive that the Commission plans to address not only access to in-vehicle data, but also the possibility to send data to the vehicle as well as access to vehicle resources, which is essential for third parties to provide valuable services to drivers. CLEPA urges the Commission to put forward its proposal as early as possible so that legislative negotiations may conclude before the end of the European Parliament’s current term in 2024.
The Data Act is an important first step in the right direction to ensure a level playing field in mobility services, however, further clarifications would be beneficial. For instance, the Article 4 obligation for data holders to make available the data generated by the use of a product or related service without undue delay, free of charge, and in real-time seems rather extensive. The proposed text does not appear to distinguish between raw data (e.g. generated by a connected vehicle’s sensors) and aggregated or otherwise enriched data, which may contain IP-protected elements. The latter should not be subject to an unconditional sharing obligation, but it is unclear whether the proposal’s provisions on the protection of trade secrets properly addresses these concerns.
The Commission’s regulatory approach in the Data Act is to put the user at the centre of the system, by giving them the power to decide if and how vehicle generated data is shared. Third-party service providers are not granted any direct right to access the data generated by a connected vehicle (even if they contributed to building the vehicle by providing some of its parts and components, and the data in question is not personal data); they can only get such access through authorisation by the user. While this is in principle a good approach to delegate the control away from potential “data gatekeepers,” it will reduce the possibility for automotive part manufacturers to utilise data on component behaviour for the purposes of development and engineering. Such industrial data has no direct value to consumers, but can be of great help to manufacturers.
CLEPA gladly notes that the writing of Article 6.2.e now only prevents third parties from using shared data to develop products that would compete with the product the data originates from, but allows them to use the data to provide competing services. CLEPA appreciates this balanced approach. Preventing third parties from providing competing services on the basis of the data would have been a major barrier to the development of mobility services and would have limited competition unnecessarily.
European automotive suppliers are looking forward to supporting the work of the EU institutions during the Data Act’s adoption procedure, as well as during the preparation of the upcoming sector-specific proposal on access to in-vehicle data and resources.
In: CLEPA News, Connectivity & Automation, Data