News In Context

What Business Needs To Know About The EU Data Act

As part of a larger effort to protect its technology and data sovereignty the European Commission on February 23 unveiled its legislative proposal for an EU Data Act, which will impact who can use and access data generated in the EU across all economic sectors.

The proposed new legislation expands on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which  focuses on how companies collect personal information about EU residents. The proposed EU Data Act targets non-personal data. It takes aim at the lock a few big tech companies have on commercial and industrial data, with an eye towards making data more available to European small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and ensuring greater availability of data generated by users through Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

“Today is an important step in unlocking a wealth of industrial data in Europe, benefiting businesses, consumers, public services and society as a whole,” Thierry Breton, the EU Commissioner for Internal Market, said in a statement. “So far, only a small part of industrial data is used and the potential for growth and innovation is enormous. The Data Act will ensure that industrial data is shared, stored and processed in full respect of European rules. It will form the cornerstone of a strong, innovative and sovereign European digital economy.”

The Commission said the Data Act addresses the legal, economic and technical issues that block some 80% of industrial data from being used . The new rules will make more data available for reuse and are expected to create €270 billion of additional GDP by 2028.

“The proposal shows that the EU is getting serious on not just data protection and security but also data sharing for economic growth,” Anne Flanagan, Data Policy Lead at the World Economic, said in a statement.   She said she believes that ensuring greater availability of data generated by users through IoT devices, will have clear implications for the future of AR/VR/XR, the metaverse and Web 3.0 policy.

 Making non-personal data more available is expected to “lead to entirely new business models and indeed trigger innovation in Europe,” Jens Schefzig, IT and data protection partner at law firm Osborne Clarke, told Euronews.  “The European Commission might think that while Europe has lost the race with regards to business models based on personal data, it still has a chance with regards to business models based on non-personal data. The Data Act will certainly extend the market for data.”

Big tech companies complain that the bill discriminates against them and would effectively push many companies operating in Europe to store more of their data in Europe, with European providers, rather than sending it overseas or using American companies.

The EU Data Act also includes a proposal to mandate business to government (B2G) data sharing for public good. “Current legislation means it can happen now, but this new proposal may have sweeping implications without clear parameters,” said the Forum’s Flanagan. “Negotiations will need to ensure that all new measures are balanced and appropriate so as not to create a chilling economic effect and instead achieve a future-proof human-centric data economy.”

The February 23 proposal is part of the biggest proposed expansion of global tech regulation in decades. The EU is finalizing two new laws aimed at large tech companies, one that seeks to limit potential abuses of dominance and the other that aims to force them to take more responsibility for policing online content, both backed by significant fines.

EU officials say their goal with the new EU Data legislation is to help open up more of a marketplace for data by forcing companies to strike data-sharing deals that would allow consumers to choose between competing service providers when using connected devices. If all goes to plan consumers and businesses will be able to access the data of their device and use it for aftermarket and value-added services, like predictive maintenance; business and industrial players will have more data available and benefit from a competitive data market ;and aftermarkets services providers will be able to offer more personalized services

The proposal for the Data Act includes:

  • Measures to allow users of connected devices to gain access to data generated by them, which is often exclusively harvested by manufacturers; and to share such data with third parties to provide aftermarket or other data-driven innovative services. It maintains incentives for manufacturers to continue investing in high-quality data generation, by covering their transfer-related costs and excluding use of shared data in direct competition with their product.
  • Measures to rebalance negotiation power for SMEs by preventing abuse of contractual imbalances in data sharing contracts. The Data Act will shield them from unfair contractual terms imposed by a party with a significantly stronger bargaining position. The Commission will also develop model contractual terms in order to help such companies to draft and negotiate fair data-sharing contracts.
  • Means for public sector bodies to access and use data held by the private sector that is necessary for exceptional circumstances, particularly in case of a public emergency, such as floods and wildfires, or to implement a legal mandate if data are not otherwise available. Data insights are needed to respond quickly and securely, while minimising the burden on businesses.
  • New rules allowing customers to effectively switch between different cloud data-processing services providers and putting in place safeguards against unlawful data transfer.  

In addition, the Data Act reviews certain aspects of the Database Directive, which was created in the 1990s to protect investments in the structured presentation of data. Notably, it clarifies that databases containing data from IoT devices and objects should not be subject to separate legal protection in order to ensure they can be accessed and used.

The Commission also published an overview of the common European data spaces that are being developed in various sectors and domains on February 23.



Kraft-Heinz And Notco Form Joint Venture To Produce AI-Powered Food Products

Kraft-Heinz and NotCo, the food tech company behind the NotCo brand of plant-based foods, announced they are forming a joint venture to develop a lineup of plant-based food products. According to the Feb. 22 announcement, the new company will leverage the strengths of both companies to develop and bring to market a new line of plant-based products. Called The Kraft Heinz Not Company, it will leverage NotCo’s patented AI platform to develop the food products, while Kraft-Heinz will offer up its production capabilities and formidable sales channels to help bring the products to market.In joining forces with NotCo, Kraft-Heinz is partnering up with one of the hottest new brands in the fast-growing alt-milk category. The Chilean-based startup has secured distribution deals with a number of premium natural and organic food retailers such as Whole Foods, Sprouts and others. since entering the US market in late 2020. The deal also gives the CPG stalwart access to the startup’s patented AI product development platform.Notco’s AI platform works by sifting through huge datasets from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Library and other sources to find ingredient and processing combinations that would best mimic the elements (flavor, texture, etc.) of real meat or dairy in plant-based analogues. The goal is to find the types of combinations that can create a product that completely mimics traditional meat and dairy — a feat few if any plant-based protein-makers have yet to achieve.This new JV could serve as a template for other large CPG brands looking to rejuvenate their product lines as more consumers turn to plant-based diets. Many of the old-school brands are ill-equipped to utilize newer product development tools like AI to create new products, so it makes lots of sense to partner up with ascendant brands well-versed in faster digital-centric product development methodologies.


Retailers Seek Real World Profits In The Metaverse

Retailers like Forever21, Nike and Chipotle are rushing to create virtual world stores in a bet it will boost real world profits.  JPMorgan calls the metaverse a trillion dollar yearly revenue opportunity, noting in a recent report that around $54 billion in virtual goods are sold every year, more than twice what is spent on buying music. The report described how just one parcel of land within Decentraland, a more adult-oriented metaverse space than Roblox, sold for almost $1 million. Its developer, Everyrealm, uses the space for an online shopping mall. “Instead of having stores in every city,” the report posits, “a major retailer might build a global hub in the metaverse that is able to serve millions of customers.” In that vein, Nike recently launched Nikeland, also on Roblox, where shoppers browsing digital Nike products are greeted by a virtual reincarnation of basketball star LeBron James. Chipotle launched its own “restaurant” where the first 30,000 visitors got a voucher for a real burrito, while shoe brand Vans took the obvious route with its customer base — and opened a skate park. “How you present yourself or how you allow your brand to be utilized in this environment is critical,” Steve Rendle, chief executive of VF Corporation, which owns Vans, as well as North Face and Timberland, told The Financial Times. “We’re going to be very thoughtful and very careful in how our brand is represented inside the metaverse.”


GM Plans 25 Digital Features, Services by 2026

General Motors aims to turbocharge its non-vehicle revenue by introducing dozens of new fee-based digital features by 2026, including one enabling a car to predict when it will need maintenance, a top executive said on Thursday.”We have 50-some value-added products and services that we’ll be rolling out over the next 36 to 48 months,” Steve Carlisle, president of GM North America, said at an investor conference.Carlysle said GM’s OnStar unit, which now offers insurance in addition to concierge services to drivers, generates about $32 a month per customer, and its enhanced Super Cruise driver assist feature will further bolster that. The new digital products, including in-vehicle subscriptions, will be supported by GM’s Ultifi software and connectivity platform. Ultifi also will enable over-the-air software updates, and help drivers and passengers with tasks such as online shopping.

Polestar Partners With Suppliers To Develop Climate Neutral Car

Swedish electric carmaker Polestar said on February 22 that it has partnered with suppliers including Germany’s ZF Friedrichshafen  and Swedish steelmaker SSAB to speed up the development of a car entirely free of carbon emissions.The carmaker said it has signed letters of intent to work with Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro , Swedish airbag and seatbelt maker Autoliv, LG, lighting and electronics unit ZKW Group, ZF and SSAB to eliminate carbon emissions in different areas of its electric vehicles.

Airbus Plans To Test Hydrogen Engine on A380 Jumbo Jet To Fly in 2026

Airbus said it plans to test a hydrogen-powered engine on a modified A380 by the middle of the decade, in hopes of bringing lower-emission fuels to commercial air travel. The European aircraft giant said Tuesday that it’s working with engine maker CFM International — a joint venture of General Electric’s aviation arm and France’s Safran — on the test plane, which will include a modified version of an engine already in use that will have to handle higher temperatures at which hydrogen burns. Test flights could begin 2026, Airbus said.Aircraft manufacturers and airlines are scrambling to slash their carbon emissions, which account for more than 2% of the world’s total. Airbus has aggressively pursued hydrogen and said it is working on a passenger aircraft powered by the fuel that it expects will enter service in 2035.

Mobileye, Mobility Firms To Launch Self-Driving Shuttles In U.S. in 2024

Mobileye, the Jerusalem-based developer of driver assistance technologies acquired by Intel Corporation for $15.3 billion in 2017, has joined forces with two mobility firms to develop and deploy autonomous (SAE Level 4) fully electric shuttles in the United States in 2024, the Israeli company announced this month.The shuttles are aimed at first-and-last-mile use cases in public and private communities across North America, an announcement from Intel said. Mobileye will team up with German electric mobility unit Benteler EV Systems, and Florida firm Beep Inc., a MaaS (mobility-as-a-service) provider that offers solutions that plan, deploy, and manage advanced autonomous shuttles.The electric shuttles, which will be powered by Mobileye’s self-driving system Mobileye Drive, will feature 12 to 14 seats and no steering wheel or pedal, according to Reuters. Benteler and Beep will supply the electric shuttles designed to meet automotive industry and safety standards for public road use. The shuttle will be supported by Beep’s proven deployment and operations systems, technology, and services.

Virgin Hyperloop  Axes Half Its Staff To Focus On Freight

Virgin Hyperloop has made almost half its staff redundant as the company pivots from transporting people to delivering a cargo version of the experimental transport system, which propels pods through low-pressure tubes at speeds of up to 670 mph..” The company is “changing direction”, Virgin Hyperloop told the FT. “It really has more to do with global supply chain issues and all the changes due to Covid.” Virgin Hyperloop said the logistics market had changed “dramatically” and that it was responding to strong customer interest in a cargo-based service. Backers of the company, which is developing technology first proposed by Elon Musk, include Dubai government logistics provider and ports operator DP World and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Virgin Hyperloop, which has raised more than $400 million in funding, is the only company to have completed a successful test run with passengers using the technology. The system builds on existing technologies of vacuum tubes and magnetic railways, with a view to cutting land-based travel times drastically and boosting the efficiency of freight transportation.


Lloyds Outlines £1 Billion, Three-Year Digitalization Strategy

Lloyds Banking Group is to spend £1 billion over the next three years on overhauling its technology infrastructure and self-service capabilities. The long-term strategy, outlined by new chief executive Charlie Nunn, involves porting 20% of its applications to the cloud by 2024 and decommissioning over 15% of legacy applications. The initiative comes after a leaked video emerged late last year of a senior Lloyds executive complaining about the age of its on-site technology which was deemed “not fit for purpose”.Nunn says Lloyds wants to increase its digitally active customers by more than 10% by 2024 to in excess of 20 million, by adopting an agile software delivery method and using data and analytics to deliver personalised engagement, offers and pricing. The bank currently boasts 26 million “customer relationships” and more than 18 million digitally active users

Wall Street Players Back DLT-Based System For Alternative Assets

Wall Street players including BlackRock, Morgan Stanley and State Street are backing a new consortium led by iCapital that will build a distributed ledger-based system for alternative assets. The partners say that creating a secure, shared, auditable record for each alternative investment will augment the efficiency of the investment creation, management, and exit processes, eliminating the need for each party to take in data, reconcile it to their records and share new versions of the data with others.”The value in a private, permissioned, distributed ledger solution is that it creates one single golden source of data – eliminating the need for multiple reconciliations, allowing all the parties in a transaction to read from and write to the same record,” Tom Fortin, CIO, iCapital, told Finextra. Apollo, BlackRock, Blackstone, BNY Mellon, Carlyle, KKR, Morgan Stanley, State Street, UBS and WestCap are the first to join the consortium, with iCapital predicting more to follow.


SaNOtize Nasal Spray Wins Approval As Early Treatment For COVID-19

An Israeli-founded company in Canada developing a nasal technology to treat and prevent upper respiratory and topical infections, like COVID-19,  announced that its nasal spray product was approved for sale in India this month after successful Phase 3 clinical trials proved it can reduce viral load in people with mild cases of the novel coronavirus.SaNOtize Research and Development Corp., a Vancouver-based pharmaceutical firm, said that its nitric oxide nasal spray (NONS) has received approval from India’s drug regulator for the treatment of adult patients with COVID-19 who have a risk of progression of the disease.


 U.S. Says Iranian Cyber Actors Behind Attacks Worldwide

Iran-linked cyber operations are targeting a range of government and private-sector organizations in multiple sectors across Asia, Africa, Europe and North America, U.S. security and law enforcement agencies said in an notice on February 24.The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), along with British and other U.S. authorities, said they had observed Iranian actors known as “MuddyWater” conducting malicious cyber operations targeting telecommunications, defense, local government, and the oil and natural gas sectors.

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About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.