With the growing importance of data for the digital transformation and for data-driven innovation, access to and sharing of data has become critical. Today, data access and sharing, for instance, are needed to enhance public service delivery and to identify emerging governmental and societal needs. In science, data access and sharing provide a range of benefits for researchers by enabling open science. With the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to and sharing of data will further increase in importance, even in traditionally less data-intensive fields such as manufacturing, agriculture, and construction. This development has been key for enabling the next production revolution (NPR).
Despite the growing need for access to data and evidence of the economic and social benefits, data access and sharing remains below its potential. Individuals, businesses, and governments often face barriers to data access, which may be compounded by reluctance to share, including within organisations and across sectors.
Stakeholders face several risks when sharing data, such as the risks of digital security and privacy breaches and the violation of other legitimate private interests such as commercial interests. To address these challenges, some governments and private sector actors have established a wide variety of initiatives, but efforts have been uneven across sectors and countries. Furthermore, there remains a need for data governance frameworks to be coherent across economic sectors, society, and countries, including across public sector organisations.
The OECD has undertaken extensive analysis to assess to what extent enhanced access to data can maximise the social and economic value of data. The November 2019 report "Enhancing Access to and Sharing of Data: Reconciling Risks and Benefits for Data Re-use across Societies" identifies best practices to balance different interests in a way that ensures that the benefits of data access and sharing are reaped, while the associated risks are managed and reduced to a socially acceptable level. The report is based on the findings of the OECD expert workshop “Enhanced access to data - Reconciling risks and benefits of data re-use” held in Copenhagen, Denmark in October 2017.
The OECD is now working towards the development of general principles for enhancing access to and sharing of data across the economy in a coherent manner. These principles would also help ensure the coherence and continued relevance of the current OECD legal instruments that provide guidance and best practices on issues such as data openness, transparency, stakeholder engagement, intellectual property rights (IPR), and pricing. These legal instruments include: