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EDMO releases report on researcher access to platform data

The report by the European Digital Media Observatory’s (EDMO) Working Group on Platform-to-Researcher Data Access includes a draft Code of Conduct on how platforms can share data with independent researchers while protecting users’ rights.

The working group of twelve representatives from academia, civil society, and technology companies were tasked in 2021 to draft a Code of Conduct on access to platform data under Article 40 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Access to data from major digital media platforms such as Meta, Twitter and Google will allow independent researchers to provide better understanding to the public about online disinformation and other phenomena that impact platform users and societies.

The new report clarifies how platforms may provide access to data to independent researchers in a GDPR-compliant manner.

On 13 June 2022, the working group will present the report to the cabinet of European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová during EDMO’s annual conference.

In the coming weeks, the draft Code of Conduct will be refined through further consultation and approved by relevant data protection authorities as an effective tool to support safe, legal sharing of data for independent research purposes.

Working Group Chair Rebekah Tromble: “I believe this report represents a major step forward in discussions of platform-to-researcher data access.

The draft Code’s guidance on GDPR compliance and its recommendations for how to safeguard against risks to data subjects offer new insights for researchers and their institutions, for platforms, and for policymakers and regulators alike.

I am grateful to the Working Group members for all of their engagement over the past year and to AWO who have provided excellent support and expert advice during this time.”

EDMO Executive Board Member Richard Allan added:

I would encourage everyone who is interested in improving researcher access to data held by internet services to read this report.

It provides a very clear and concise analysis of the challenges that have been raised around data sharing, and importantly then goes on to provide a solution to those challenges in its draft Code of Conduct.”

The Working Group on Access to Platform Data was established by EDMO, but has also received extensive support from George Washington University and the data rights agency AWO.

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