Friday 24 November 2017

Ireland joins EU states in call for free data flows

The EU is expected to present a proposal enabling the free flow of data across the bloc later this year. Photo: Bloomberg
The EU is expected to present a proposal enabling the free flow of data across the bloc later this year. Photo: Bloomberg
Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

Ireland has joined other EU nations in calling for the removal of barriers to data flows both within and outside of the 28-nation bloc.

In a letter to the European Commission, signed by Innovation Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Communications Minister Denis Naughten, 14 nations urged Brussels to ensure current legislation does not stop the development of new technologies.

Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK joined Ireland in signing the letter.

"It should be ensured that data can move freely across borders, both within and outside the EU, by removing all unjustified barriers to the free flow of data and that regulation does not constitute a barrier to development and adoption of innovative data-driven technologies," the letter reads.

Signatories encouraged the Dutch minister of economic affairs Henk Kamp to "move the single market into the digital age".

"As both consumers and businesses can benefit significantly from cross-border e-commerce within Europe, we need to step up efforts to make it easier to trade online across the internal market and not impose new burdens on businesses," they added.

The document also outlines the benefits of online platforms such as Amazon or Facebook. However, it warned against implementing "one-size-fits-all" regulation for them.

The letter from ministers across Europe comes a year after the Commission launched the European Single Market strategy. The strategy was largely developed to help European businesses compete against their US counterparts.

"The Digital Single Market should be characterised by openness towards innovation and new business models, by stronger competition and minimal barriers, and a favourable environment for new entrants," European ministers wrote.

"A market-based approach where businesses do not face unjustified burdens, can operate freely across borders like they do in their home countries, and all legislation is digital by default is equally essential."

The letter backs up the Commission's vice president, Andrus Ansip, who has openly spoken of his desire to remove barriers to data flows.

While he said localising data in some countries is very popular, he deems it as a "dead end".

The calls from European ministers come during discussions around Privacy Shield, the controversial deal to facilitate data transfers to the US, which is to succeed Safe Harbour.

Privacy Shield has been criticised by Europe's data protection watchdogs for its vagueness and say it is potentially open to abuse.

Irish Independent

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