Artificial intelligence and data-driven innovation: new rules

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Making more public datasets available for reuse is the new aspect in the EU digital regulations. The so-called “high-value datasets” are already containing information on six thematic areas laid out in the Open Data Directive (effective from mid-2019): i.e. geospatial, earth observation and environment, meteorological, statistics, companies and mobility issues. Besides, the Implementing Regulation also lays down the arrangements for publishing and reusing high-value datasets.  

The new rules have the potential to generate important societal and economic benefits by fuelling new innovative products and services such as artificial intelligence applications. High-value datasets in the meteorological area, for example, can be used to produce better weather predictions and related apps. Agricultural companies could leverage satellite imagery, weather data and soil health information to implement precision farming techniques, thereby increasing yield and reducing waste.
The official portal for European data is the most extensive resource for accessing open data: it includes more than 1.7 million datasets from the EU institutions and agencies, as well as from the member states. The high-value datasets will be available for free in machine-readable format, accessible via an Application Programming Interface (API) and, where relevant, as bulk downloads.
The evolution towards a data-based society, where data from different domains and activities are used, influences life in the member states: e.g. by gaining new ways of accessing and acquiring knowledge. Digital content plays an important role in that evolution: content production has given rise to rapid job creation in recent years and continues to do so. Most of those jobs are created by innovative start-ups and SMEs.
Previously adopted measures have been in the Regulation 2016/679 (27 April 2016) on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation). Reference to: OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.

Background
The public sector in the EU member states collects, produces, reproduces and disseminates a wide range of information in many areas of activity, such as social, political, economic, legal, geographical, environmental, meteorological, seismic, touristic, business, patent-related and educational areas. Documents produced by public sector bodies of the executive, legislature or judiciary constitute a vast, diverse and valuable pool of resources that can benefit society. Providing that information, which includes dynamic data, in a commonly used electronic format allows citizens and legal entities to find new ways to use them and create new, innovative products and services.
The EU member states and public sector bodies may be able to benefit from and receive adequate financial support from relevant Union funds and programs, ensuring a wide use of digital technologies or the digital transformation of public administrations and public services, in their efforts to make data easily available for re-use.
Public sector information represents an extraordinary source of data that can contribute to improving the internal market and to the development of new applications for consumers and legal entities. Intelligent data usage, including their processing through artificial intelligence applications, can have a transformative effect on all sectors of the economy.

Regulating “open data”
Public sector bodies produce, collect and pay for vast amounts of data, known as public sector information or government data. Examples include geographical information, statistics, weather information, as well as data from publicly funded research projects and digitalized books from libraries. The term “open public data” refers to public sector information that can be readily and widely accessed and reused, ideally under non-restrictive conditions.
For data to be truly open, it needs to be accompanied by a license that allows the data to be accessed, used and shared for commercial and non-commercial purposes.
The Open Data Directive*) sets the legal framework for open data, based on the key principles of transparency and fair competition. Moreover, it introduces the concept of high-value datasets, defined as data that is associated with important benefits for society and the economy when reused.
The Commission also adopted an Implementing Regulation**) that lays down a list of concrete high-value datasets, within the limits of the six categories defined in the Directive (geospatial, Earth observation and environment, meteorological, statistics, companies and company ownership, and mobility) and the arrangements for their publication by the EU member states. These datasets are subject to a more ambitious set of rules in order to significantly lower entry barriers to the European data-driven market and increase the volume of datasets reused.

  *) More on Directive in: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019L1024
**) This Implementing Regulation establishes the list of high-value datasets belonging to the thematic categories set out in the Directive 2019/1024 and held by public sector bodies among the existing documents to which that Directive applies. The Implementing Regulation also lays down the arrangements for publishing and reusing high-value datasets, in particular the applicable conditions for re-use and the minimum requirements for disseminating data via application programming interfaces (‘APIs’).
More on the Implementing Regulation (in effect from 2023) in: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2023.019.01.0043.01.ENG

   From now on, the public sector bodies holding high-value datasets shall ensure that the datasets (referred to in regulation) are made available in machine-readable formats via APIs corresponding to the reasonable needs of re-users. In some cases the datasets shall also be made available as a bulk download.
The public sectors bodies (defined in the regulation) shall set out and publish the terms of use of the API and the quality of service criteria on its performance, capacity and availability. The terms of use shall be available in a human-readable and machine-readable format. Both the terms of use and the quality of service criteria shall be compatible with the arrangements for the re-use of high-value datasets laid down in the regulation (Regulation, art. 4).

   More information on how to access open data is available on open data and high-value datasets in: https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/factpages/open-data-and-high-value-datasets-step-step-access-guide

Our comment
Progress in technology is vital too: hence, the advancements in frontier technology would reshape both the national and geopolitical landscape, as countries prefer to restrict exports of critical hardware and gain new strategic advantage, while also addressing the need for collaboration over critical safeguards. However, amidst rapid developments, the geopolitical implications of new technologies are still hardly assessed while most stakeholders are trying to cooperate on such issues as promoting data safety and increase innovations.

 

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