There is a lack of specific laws in Europe that clearly regulate access to and rights over data. This lack of coherence makes it difficult for businesses to manage and use their data efficiently. This was the outcome of a structured study carried out by international legal practice Osborne Clarke on behalf of the European Commission, called “Legal study on Ownership and Access to Data”. The analysis provides a detailed overview on existing legal instruments, the legal environment and the current EU regime, covering all important laws and innovations – including the Trade Secrets Directive, relevant intellectual property laws as well as sector-specific laws in England & Wales, France, Germany and Spain. Competition law is also analysed with regard to data access and usage.

Dr Jens Schefzig, IT and data protection expert at Osborne Clarke, was critical to developing the study: “The investigation offers a comprehensive insight into the relevant subjects related to data ownership, data access and the practical handling in the companies: For lack of precise rules, they have to actively shape data rights.”

The audited countries are not aware of data ownership or a specific right for data access. Instead, different legal fields are interlinked – especially data protection law, competition law, criminal law and copyright law. Companies are therefore forced to take various legal fields into account and fill resulting gaps through own rules. The structure of such contracts is subject of the study. Jens Schefzig: “However it is not clear if new regulations can help. The legal and actual complexity of data supply chains raise doubts whether a sensible regulation is possible.

Jens Schefzig advises international internet and industrial companies as well as start-ups on IT and data protection law for many years, including compliance, complex IT contracts, data analysis, data supply chains as well as rights in data and the access to data. He also specialises in negotiations with data protection authorities as well as litigation on data privacy.

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