In a groundbreaking decision, the European Union has recently passed the Data Act. This comprehensive legislation has become a topic of intense discussion due to its smart contract kill switch provision. This pivotal legislation, aimed at regulating data sharing, is poised to reshape the dynamics within the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry.
Controversy Surrounding the Data Act
The Data Act, resulting from a consensus among MEPs and member states, aims to bolster innovation by dismantling barriers to data accessibility. The act outlines specific guidelines for data sharing through connected products or services, notably within the Internet of Things (IoT) and industrial machinery sectors.
Central to the Data Act is facilitating new service development, with a particular emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI). By empowering users to access their data, the act aims to spark innovation and streamline after-sales services and repairs for connected devices.
In extreme situations, such as natural disasters, the act allows public sector bodies to access data held by private entities. Simultaneously, it safeguards trade secrets and prevents unauthorized data transfers, ensuring robust data protection.
The legislation also makes switching between cloud service providers easier and includes measures to protect against unlawful international data transfers. A clear definition of trade secrets has been established to avoid unauthorized leaks, particularly in nations with less stringent data protection laws.
The Crypto Industry’s Concerns Over Smart Contracts
Despite these advances, including a smart contract kill switch in the Data Act has sparked controversy. The crypto industry is apprehensive that this could potentially deem many smart contracts illegal.
Despite lobbying by significant blockchain entities like Stellar, Polygon, NEAR, and Cardano, the final text of the act broadly categorizes “smart contracts” and imposes responsibilities on their “vendors.” That has raised fears of endless liabilities in decentralized systems where no single seller exists.
Article 30 of the Data Act mandates a mechanism within smart contracts to terminate or interrupt transactions. This will avoid unintended future executions. The aspect aims to provide a safety net against accidental operations in these automated agreements.
The final draft of the Data Act specifies that these regulations apply solely to programs used for the automated execution of data-sharing agreements. Notably, the scope does not encompass private or permissioned networks, which is broader than what industry lobbyists had advocated.
Awaiting Final Approval
Having secured 481 votes in favor and 31 against in the European Parliament, the Data Act now stands on the cusp of formal ratification by the European Council.
The EU’s Data Act marks a significant step in digital regulation, balancing innovation with necessary safeguards. As it awaits final approval, the act will redefine the landscape of data sharing and digital contracts, impacting industries and users alike.
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