European Data Act, Final Text

Preamble 21 to 30.

(21) Where several persons or entities are considered to be users, for example in the case of co-ownership or where an owner, renter or lessee shares rights of data access or use, the design of the connected product or related service, or the relevant interface, should enable each user to have access to the data they generate.

Use of connected products that generate data typically requires a user account to be set up. Such an account allows the user to be identified by the data holder, which may be the manufacturer. It can also be used as a means of communication and to submit and process data access requests. Where several manufacturers or related services providers have sold, rented or leased connected products or provided related services, integrated together, to the same user, the user should turn to each of the parties with which it has a contract.

Manufacturers or designers of a connected product that is typically used by several persons should put in place the necessary mechanisms to allow separate user accounts for individual persons, where relevant, or for the possibility of several persons using the same user account.

Account solutions should allow users to delete their accounts and erase the data related to them and could allow users to terminate data access, use or sharing, or submit requests to terminate, in particular taking into account situations in which the ownership or usage of the connected product changes. Access should be granted to the user on the basis of simple request mechanism granting automatic execution and not requiring examination or clearance by the manufacturer or data holder.

This means that the data should be made available only when the user actually wants access. Where automated execution of the data access request is not possible, for example via a user account or accompanying mobile application provided with the connected product or related service, the manufacturer should inform the user as to how the data may be accessed.

(22) Connected products may be designed to make certain data directly accessible from on-device data storage or from a remote server to which the data are communicated. Access to on-device data storage may be enabled via cable-based or wireless local area networks connected to a publicly available electronic communications service or mobile network. The server may be the manufacturer’s own local server capacity or that of a third party or a cloud service provider.

Processors as defined in Article 4, point (8), of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 are not considered to act as data holders. However, they can be specifically tasked with making data available by the controller as defined in Article 4, point (7), of Regulation (EU) 2016/679. Connected products may be designed to permit the user or a third party to process the data on the connected product, on a computing instance of the manufacturer or within an information and communications technology (ICT) environment chosen by the user or the third party.

(23) Virtual assistants play an increasing role in digitising consumer and professional environments and serve as an easy-to-use interface to play content, obtain information, or activate products connected to the internet. Virtual assistants can act as a single gateway in, for example, a smart home environment and record significant amounts of relevant data on how users interact with products connected to the internet, including those manufactured by other parties, and can replace the use of manufacturer-provided interfaces such as touch screens or smartphone apps. The user may wish to make available such data to third party manufacturers and enable novel smart services. Virtual assistants should be covered by the data access rights provided for in this Regulation.

Data generated when a user interacts with a connected product via a virtual assistant provided by an entity other than the manufacturer of the connected product should also be covered by the data access rights provided for in this Regulation. However, only the data arising from the interaction between the user and a connected product or related service through the virtual assistant should be covered by this Regulation. Data produced by the virtual assistant which are unrelated to the use of a connected product or related service are not covered by this Regulation.

(24) Before concluding a contract for the purchase, rent, or lease of a connected product, the seller, rentor or lessor, which may be the manufacturer, should provide to the user information regarding the product data which the connected product is capable of generating, including the type, format and the estimated volume of such data, in a clear and comprehensible manner.

This could include information on data structures, data formats, vocabularies, classification schemes, taxonomies and code lists, where available, as well as clear and sufficient information relevant for the exercise of the user’s rights on how the data may be stored, retrieved or accessed, including the terms of use and quality of service of application programming interfaces or, where applicable, the provision of software development kits.

That obligation provides transparency over the product data generated and enhances easy access for the user. The information obligation could be fulfilled, for example by maintaining a stable uniform resource locator (URL) on the web, which can be distributed as a web link or QR code, pointing to the relevant information, which could be provided by the seller, rentor or lessor, which may be the manufacturer, to the user before concluding the contract for the purchase, rent or lease of a connected product.

It is, in any case, necessary that the user is able to store the information in a way that is accessible for future reference and that allows the unchanged reproduction of the information stored. The data holder cannot be expected to store the data indefinitely in view of the needs of the user of the connected product, but should implement a reasonable data retention policy, where applicable, in line with storage limitation principle pursuant Article 5(1), point (e), of Regulation (EU) 2016/679, that allows for the effective application of the data access rights provided for in this Regulation.

The obligation to provide information does not affect the obligation of the controller to provide information to the data subject pursuant to Articles 12, 13 and 14 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679. The obligation to provide information before concluding a contract for the provision of a related service should lie with the prospective data holder, independently of whether the data holder concludes a contract for the purchase, rent or lease of a connected product. Where information changes during the lifetime of the connected product or the contract period for the related service, including where the purpose for which those data are to be used changes from the originally specified purpose, it should also be provided to the user.

(25) This Regulation should not be understood to confer any new right on data holders to use product data or related service data. Where the manufacturer of a connected product is a data holder, the basis for the manufacturer to use non-personal data should be a contract between the manufacturer and the user. Such a contract could be part of an agreement for the provision of the related service, which could be concluded together with the purchase, rent or lease agreement relating to the connected product.

Any contractual term stipulating that the data holder may use product data or related service data should be transparent to the user, including regarding the purposes for which the data holder intends to use the data. Such purposes could include improving the functioning of the connected product or related services, developing new products or services, or aggregating data with the aim of making available the resulting derived data to third parties, provided that such derived data do not allow the identification of specific data transmitted to the data holder from the connected product, or allow a third party to derive those data from the dataset. Any change of the contract should depend on the informed agreement of the user.

This Regulation does not prevent parties from agreeing on contractual terms the effect of which is to exclude or limit the use of non-personal data, or certain categories of non-personal data, by a data holder. Neither does it prevent parties from agreeing to make product data or related service data available to third parties, directly or indirectly, including, where applicable, via another data holder. Moreover, this Regulation does not prevent sector-specific regulatory requirements under Union law, or national law compatible with Union law, which would exclude or limit the use of certain such data by the data holder on well-defined public policy grounds.

This Regulation does not prevent users, in the case of business-to-business relations, from making data available to third parties or data holders under any lawful contractual term, including by agreeing to limit or restrict further sharing of such data, or from being compensated proportionately, for example in exchange for waiving their right to use or share such data. While the notion of ‘data holder’ generally does not include public sector bodies, it may include public undertakings.

(26) To foster the emergence of liquid, fair and efficient markets for non-personal data, users of connected products should be able to share data with others, including for commercial purposes, with minimal legal and technical effort. It is currently often difficult for businesses to justify the personnel or computing costs that are necessary for preparing non-personal datasets or data products and to offer them to potential counterparties via data intermediation services, including data marketplaces.

A substantial hurdle to the sharing of non-personal data by businesses therefore results from the lack of predictability of economic returns from investing in the curation and making available of datasets or data products. In order to allow for the emergence of liquid, fair and efficient markets for non-personal data in the Union, the party that has the right to offer such data on a market must be clarified.

Users should therefore have the right to share non-personal data with data recipients for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Such data sharing could be performed directly by the user, upon the request of the user via a data holder, or through data intermediation services. Data intermediation services, as regulated by Regulation (EU) 2022/868 of the European Parliament and of the Council could facilitate a data economy by establishing commercial relationships between users, data recipients and third parties and may support users in exercising their right to use data, such as ensuring the anonymisation of personal data or aggregation of access to data from multiple individual users.

Where data are excluded from a data holder’s obligation to make them available to users or third parties, the scope of such data could be specified in the contract between the user and the data holder for the provision of a related service so that users can easily determine which data are available to them for sharing with data recipients or third parties. Data holders should not make available non-personal product data to third parties for commercial or non-commercial purposes other than the fulfilment of their contract with the user, without prejudice to legal requirements pursuant to Union or national law for a data holder to make data available. Where relevant, data holders should contractually bind third parties not to further share data received from them.

(27) In sectors characterised by the concentration of a small number of manufacturers supplying connected products to end users, there may only be limited options available to users for the access to and the use and sharing of data. In such circumstances, contracts may be insufficient to achieve the objective of user empowerment, making it difficult for users to obtain value from the data generated by the connected product they purchase, rent or lease. Consequently, there is limited potential for innovative smaller businesses to offer data-based solutions in a competitive manner and for a diverse data economy in the Union.

This Regulation should therefore build on recent developments in specific sectors, such as the Code of Conduct on agricultural data sharing by contract. Union or national law may be adopted to address sector-specific needs and objectives. Furthermore, data holders should not use any readily available data that is non-personal data in order to derive insights about the economic situation of the user or its assets or production methods or about such use by the user in any other manner that could undermine the commercial position of that user on the markets in which it is active.

This could include using knowledge about the overall performance of a business or a farm in contractual negotiations with the user on the potential acquisition of the user’s products or agricultural produce to the user’s detriment, or using such information to feed into larger databases on certain markets in the aggregate, for example databases on crop yields for the upcoming harvesting season, as such use could affect the user negatively in an indirect manner. The user should be given the necessary technical interface to manage permissions, preferably with granular permission options such as ‘allow once’ or ‘allow while using this app or service’, including the option to withdraw such permissions.

(28) In contracts between a data holder and a consumer as user of a connected product or related service generating data, Union consumer law, in particular Directives 93/13/EEC and 2005/29/EC, applies to ensure that a consumer is not subject to unfair contractual terms. For the purposes of this Regulation, unfair contractual terms unilaterally imposed on an enterprise should not be binding on that enterprise.

(29) Data holders may require appropriate user identification to verify a user’s entitlement to access the data. In the case of personal data processed by a processor on behalf of the controller, data holders should ensure that the access request is received and handled by the processor.

(30) The user should be free to use the data for any lawful purpose. This includes providing the data the user has received while exercising its rights under this Regulation to a third party offering an aftermarket service that may be in competition with a service provided by a data holder, or to instruct the data holder to do so.

The request should be submitted by the user or by an authorised third party acting on a user’s behalf, including a provider of a data intermediation service. Data holders should ensure that the data made available to the third party is as accurate, complete, reliable, relevant and up-to-date as the data the data holder itself may be able or entitled to access from the use of the connected product or related service. Any intellectual property rights should be respected in the handling of the data. It is important to preserve incentives to invest in products with functionalities based on the use of data from sensors built into those products.