Access to non-personal data in the private sector

The term 'non-personal data' or 'technical data' jointly covers all data that does not concern an identified or identifiable natural person, as well as anonymised personal data. There are many examples. This could include meteorological, environmental data or statistical data, data generated automatically by machines such as sensors or probes, or data generated by natural persons such as data on the frequency or intensity of the use of a product. 

While the use of data is not a new phenomenon, per se, the volume of data now being generated and processed, as well as what it is being used for does constitute a paradigm shift. When accessible, it has the capacity to contribute to technological innovation and is of major economic interest. They are also opening up new fields of research and are key to the deployment of artificial intelligence. Nevertheless, this data – whose circulation and use is essential to the development of a data economy – is often held by private entities that restrict access either voluntarily or due to a lack of sharing solutions. 

These issues have occupied the Federal Council for several years. The goal of the Government is to create the conditions for the legal, secure and fair sharing of non-personal data by private companies and organisations. Data sharing shall permit specifically authorised access to datasets by third parties in order to generate value with a view to promoting data-driven innovation. 

In 2019, the Federal Council commissioned the IPI to produce a report on access to non-personal data in the private sector. The IPI submitted its report (available in German and French) and the Executive Summary to the Federal Council in May 2021, which approved its content and recommendations. The report also examines the data market

Following this report, the Federal Council instructed the IPI to implement measures to facilitate access to and sharing of this data between companies. The IPI therefore offers standardised contractual documentation (model agreements), drafted by specialists and practitioners, in order to facilitate the sharing of this technical data by making such data held by private sector actors available to other organisations or private entities for their own use. The IPI provides a practical guide prepared by the law firm id est avocats on behalf of the IPI, which answers various questions relating to the sharing of technical data.