EU ministers hold Big Meeting on Big Data. But how will they get you to hand it over?

Poxy citizens, always slowing us down

Analysis Europe’s Industry and Internal Market Ministers have been told to have a good long think about Big Data before showing up to their next meeting in Brussels on 2 March.

The “theme” of the next Competitiveness council meeting is “Unlocking Europe's digital potential: faster and wider innovation through open, networked and data-intensive research” [catchy - Ed].

The Presidency of the council has asked ministers to consider what their main priorities are for data-driven innovation in research. It also asks if Big Data challenges are sufficiently addressed at national level and how coordination at the EU level could be improved.

Although the meeting preparation document (designed to help ministers with their thinking) mentions stumbling blocks - for example, the lack of cloud computing standards and interoperability, a need for investment in mobile broadband and a dearth of sufficient skills and competences in data management and analytics - the main barrier to Big Data usage seems to be citizens’ reluctance to simply hand it over.

To address these “supply-side challenges” the document suggests “improving transparency, access and empowerment of individuals, promoting responsible usage of personal data by organisations and use of technologies in the service of privacy protection” might go some way towards allaying privacy fears.

It also references a July 2014 communication from the European Commission that recommends “updated rules in the fields of copyright, security, data ownership as well as trust and privacy” as the backbone of “viable and long-lasting expansion of the data economy in Europe”.

All this is clearly feeding into the Commission’s plans to announce a new Digital Single Market Strategy alongside copyright reform and the Data Protection Regulation, which is already under discussion. ®

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