Europeans should control their B-to-B data, says EU commissioner

Thierry Breton in the Berlaymont. [Europe by Satellite]

The United States and China are the world’s leaders in harvesting and exploiting personal data and the European Union must make sure the same thing does not happen when it comes to business-to-business data, the new EU commissioner for the internal market said.

Thierry Breton did not give details on how this might be achieved in an interview with the financial daily Les Echos published on Tuesday (7 January). But his remarks after one month in the job shed light on the direction he wants to pursue.

“It is true that for the current generation of services based on personal data, the United States and China are ahead of Europe,” Breton said.

He said platforms in those markets had benefitted from huge internal markets while hoovering up data from elsewhere by means that were now being scrutinised.

“Let us focus on the second phase which is beginning now, that of B-to-B (business-to-business) and do so with a clear principle in mind: that European should be the owners of their data, and this data should be handled in Europe.”

B-to-B refers to transactions between two businesses, such as a manufacturer and wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which took effect in May 2018 is designed to protect the privacy rights of EU individuals but also applies to all companies processing or controlling the personal information of EU residents, regardless of where those firms are located.

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