The value of the data market in the EU today is €50bn, but by 2020 it will rise to €111bn, European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip told The Malta Independent on Sunday during an interview.
Commissioner Ansip, who holds overarching responsibility for the implementation of the Digital Single Market, declared himself against forced data localisation (storing user data in a data centre on the internet that is physically situated in the same country as the one in which the data originated.).
“Around the world we can see that the number of different rules prohibiting free data flows is increasing. In the EU we now have more than 50 different rules dealing with forced data localisation in 20 different countries.
“Global digital economies are based on data. If a country with one law prohibits the free movement of data connected with public health, transportation, smart-metres, for example, then we can say they prohibit free movement of 90 per cent of all the possible data.
“Big companies would be able to deal with 28 sets of rules and able to create data centres in all member states”, he said, “but for start-ups and small companies it would be impossible.
“Data localisation for bigger companies is very costly and will create a lot of complications. Let’s take connected vehicles as an example. Scania was able to connect more than 200,000 trucks around the world, getting information from the trucks by the minute and, as a result, providing advice on maintenance and improving driving habits and, because they know the location of these trucks, and where they have to go, being able create road trains.”
“If data localisation becomes a reality, does this mean that Scania will need data centres in every state? What will happen to the trucks when they cross borders?
“Let’s consider healthcare. In Estonia, healthcare records are owned by the patients, but in the majority of member states they are owned by hospitals and in some states patients don’t even have the right to copies of their personal health records. How can we talk about freedom of movement for patients when there are those who cannot even get copies of their own records? If we are talking about a rare condition, for example, a small country would perhaps have around five cases a year. We all know that today – and even more so in the future – healthcare data is helpful when it comes to identifying patterns and correlations. But if a country has only five cases a year, how