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Mandatory data sharing vs. data sovereignty: How to connect global data dots?

07.01.2021

Last month representatives of the OECD, the European Commission, academia, and industry took part in an engaging Science Business webinar on the future of data sharing and data sovereignty titled: “Mandatory data sharing versus data sovereignty”.

In the webinar, Audrey Plonk (head of division, digital economic policy at the OECD) stated that we have seen “a strong commitment by countries to both work together more, but to also tackle some of the more thorny problems”. This trend is likely the result of the current pandemic, which has brought to light the need to track and predict the spread of the COVID-19 virus across Europe and pushed countries to share healthcare data with various medical and public parties. An example here is the creation of the FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) for data sharing developed by the Virus Outbreak Data Network (VODAN). The network of data points they set up enables machines and individuals to obtain and read healthcare system data. Typically these data are owned by a hospital or disease control centre, which are left in charge as they keep the authority to grant or deny permissions of using the data.

In the future, as artificial intelligence solutions advance, sharing data will become increasingly vital according to Jeremy Rollison (senior director of EU affairs at Microsoft) who states that: “It’s very unlikely that any one entity on their own has enough data to be successful at artificial intelligence development”. This does not mean that data should be opened up in every scenario and to everyone. However, in order to promote and facilitate data sharing, trusted legal frameworks should be in place to support tech tools in driving widespread data sharing. To that end, the Commission aims to introduce legislation that will tackle current problems in data sharing and help to agree on a set of rules that harmonises the European, and ultimately global landscape.

Interested to learn more? Have a look at the Science Business coverage of the webinar!