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European Supervisory Authorities consult on Big Data

First Published 20th December 2016

The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) has launched a public consultation about the potential benefits and risks of Big Data for consumers and financial firms to determine whether any further regulatory or supervisory actions may be needed.

Big Data is a phenomenon linked to the ever increasing availability of data and advances in Information Technology tools, applications, platforms and systems to collect, process and analyse it. Big Data can generate ideas, solutions or predict certain events or behaviours and is already used in the financial industry.

Gabriel Bernardino, Chairman of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and the current Chair of the Joint Committee, said: "The ESAs need to understand better what the Big Data phenomenon means for us as consumers, the financial industry and regulators and therefore invites all stakeholders to share their views."

The ESAs' Discussion Paper notes that Big Data can bring a number of benefits to both financial firms and consumers. At the same time, the ESAs also consider potential risks associated with Big Data, such as access issues for consumers being classified as undesirable due to firms' abilities to undertake more granular analyses.

Part of the ESAs' mandates is to monitor emerging risks for consumers and financial institutions as well as new financial activities. Existing EU legislation on data protection, competition and consumer protection, which share the common goals of promoting economic growth, innovation and the welfare of individual consumers, are relevant for financial firms while not explicitly addressing Big Data. The Discussion Paper asks whether the existing regulatory framework is sufficiently flexible to cover Big Data, has gaps which need to be filled and how it impacts the use of Big Data technologies. The consultation closes on 17 March 2017.