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EU Data Act negotiations: IRU warns against trade secrets excuse
EU | Brussels

EU Data Act negotiations: IRU warns against trade secrets excuse

28 Mar 2023 · People

The Council of the European Union has adopted its general approach on the Data Act. IRU had previously welcomed the text adopted by the European Parliament. But the Council’s version allows data holders to refuse users access to their own data.

As with the Parliament’s text, IRU welcomes the clarification regarding vehicle users and third parties’ access to vehicle-generated data, as well as the additional limits on governments’ access to such data.

However, unlike the Parliament’s version, the Council’s general approach opens the door to data holders being able to refuse access to data based on the pretext of “serious damage”.

More precisely, the Council entitled data holders to deny the right to access data if the data holder can demonstrate that they are highly likely to suffer serious damage from the disclosure of trade secrets, despite the technical and organisational measures taken by the user to protect trade secrets.

The Data Act, the first EU industrial data rulebook, will set harmonised rules on accessing, sharing and using data generated by connected products, such as vehicles, and related services.

IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian said, “Users, including transport operators, should not be denied access to data generated by their own vehicles due to ‘trade secrets’.

“If someone were to invoke the excuse of ‘trade secrets’, it should be the vehicle users. After all, it’s their vehicles and commercial operations.”

“Such exception not only contradicts the spirit of the proposal, which is intended to finally provide users with access to the data generated by the products they’ve purchased or leased, but also leaves many questions unanswered, such as which circumstances are considered as exceptional,” she added.

Next steps

The Council’s general approach anticipates the beginning of the final negotiations between EU legislators.

“IRU has signalled for years the necessity of regulating data flows, particularly in a business-to-business context. We can only support a text which improves the balance between the need for innovation and the need to protect commercial transport interests in a B2B context,” said Raluca Marian.

“While we welcome the Data Act, we recognise that not all sector-specific issues can be solved with a horizontal approach. This is the time to take advantage of the progress made and move forward with the ‘Access to vehicle data, functions and resources’ legislation, which would address the distinct needs of the transport industry,” she concluded.

IRU members have previously adopted the IRU position paper on the Data Act.