In particular, the conference will focus on:
- the economic challenges to data flows, in terms of the lack of economic incentives and market intermediaries.
- the growing interaction of antitrust remedies and sector regulation in promoting data sharing.
- the question of whether and to what extent the promotion of data sharing may be reconciled with data protection and privacy rules.
Data is generally defined as the ‘oil’ of the 21st-century economy: companies that successfully collect and process a large amount of data (i.e., Big Data) can provide more personalised services to their customers and reduce their production costs, by thus becoming more competitive and innovative.
During the past decade, digital platforms have proven very successful in collecting, combining, and extracting useful information from the personal data provided by their users. The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to lead to an exponential growth of ‘data harvesting’, especially concerning non-personal data.
Access to data is considered essential to stimulate economic growth and innovation. In spite of the well-recognised benefits for the economy as a whole, however, firms are often reluctant to share data due to a number of concerns, such as lack of economic incentives, lack of market intermediaries and, more generally, lack of a comprehensive legal framework on data governance.
In recent years, a number of countries have undertaken initiatives to establish a data governance framework, which may foster data sharing between economic actors. In 2020, the USA adopted a Federal Data Strategy. Similarly, in line with the European Strategy for Data, the European Union has adopted the Regulation Free Flow of Non-Personal Data, the Data Governance Act, while the European Commission has recently published a Data Act proposal. Finally, it is worth mentioning that data sharing is also an antitrust remedy, increasingly relied upon by different competition authorities in the world.
The emergence of national, potentially divergent, data governance frameworks runs the risk of creating obstacles to international data flows. Similarly, privacy and data protection rules may legitimately limit the international flow of data. The 2021 G7 started a Roadmap for Cooperation on Data Free Flow with Trust. Similarly, the OECD has adopted in 2021 a set of Recommendations in this regard. The open question is whether and to what extent such soft law instruments may lead to a global data governance framework suitable for safeguarding open data flows.
The conference will take place in a hybrid format. Invited speakers will be mostly present at the EUI campus in Florence. The audience will be able to follow the conference via Zoom free of charge. A limited number of participants in the audience will also be able to attend the event in person, in Florence. The registration fee to join the event in person is 150 €. The fee covers the cost of the refreshments (2 coffee breaks and 1 lunch) and does not include travel and accommodation expenses in Florence. Finally, participants in the executive training Regulating Digital Platforms: Competition Policy v. Ex-Ante Regulation will be able to attend the conference in person, at the EUI campus, free of charge.