EU's Industry Chief Defends Data Rules Criticised by Big Tech

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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) – European Union Industry Chief Thierry Breton defended on Thursday draft rules aimed to prevent non-EU governments gaining access illegally to EU data. He said they were not protective.

Breton's draft Data Act that he proposed in early 2012 is now at the final stages of negotiations with the European Commission, EU member states and EU legislators. Next week, the parties will likely reach an agreement on the last details of the legislation before it is passed.

The regulation outlines rights and obligations regarding the use of EU data collected by smart gadgets, machinery and consumer goods. It is the latest of a series designed to limit the power of U.S. technology giants.

"Our European data policy is to unlock the wealth of big data, and then set out how this data should be shared and stored. Breton stated that this will be beneficial to all businesses, Europeans, Americans and others.

He said that assertiveness was not the same as protectionism.

The Data Act has been criticized by European and U.S. companies alike.

Last month, Siemens and SAP said that a provision requiring companies to share their data with third parties in order to provide data-driven aftermarket services or to offer other services could compromise trade secrets.

Breton is scheduled to meet Elon Musk (owner of Twitter), Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Meta Platform), Jensen Huang, CEO at Nvidia, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in San Francisco. Breton will try to convince them to sign his AI Pact, which aims to have companies implement EU AI regulations ahead of the enforcement date in two years.

He said that he will be heading to Asia to meet with the Korean, Japanese and Singapore governments to discuss digital agendas and AI.