Government of Flanders to partner with Microsoft to develop data vaults

Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon (N-VA) will meet Microsoft at the World Economic Forum in Davos as part of an innovative partnership to better protect the data that citizens and companies entrust to the internet giant. The agency Digitaal Vlaanderen announced this in a press release. Specifically, it is about 'personal and smart data space', including data vaults and wallets. This technology will drastically change how Flanders handles data in the coming years.

In Davos, Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon (N-VA) and Microsoft will further discuss a cooperation agreement around this so-called "Flemish data vault". "I am thrilled that Flanders and Microsoft inspire each other to take up this challenge," said Jambon. "I hope other technology players will soon join us in the European movement to handle personal data in a different and trusted way."

"I am thrilled that Flanders and Microsoft inspire each other to take up this challenge"

With the data vault project, Flanders is a pioneer at the global level. The region will be the first to adopt Solid technology for citizen-government contacts. With Solid (social linked data), inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who also invented the world wide web, wants to give internet users back control of their data with the new technology.

The announced cooperation between the Flemish government and Microsoft also boosts Solid. For instance, Microsoft will adapt its Entra technology for identification and security to work together with Solid. That should make it much easier for Flemish companies to work with the Flemish data vault.

"The innovation of a personal data space is gaining ground in Europe today"

"The innovation of a personal data space is gaining ground in Europe today," minister-president Jambon said. "We need to give control of personal data back to the citizen. And with our Flemish company Datanuts, Flanders is the first to offer concrete solutions for this."

To build out Flanders' data vaults, Flanders has set up the 'Datanutsbedrijf', an external privatised agency of the Flemish government. Initially, it will launch small projects. The aim is to soon have more extensive applications for employment, housing and healthcare.

Digital AmBEtion investment plan

The cooperation between the Government of Flanders and Microsoft is part of Microsoft's Digital AmBEtion investment plan. Under that plan, the company will build three data centres in Belgium. "This will provide advanced security and cloud solutions, allow customers to access their data faster and ensure that this data is stored and processed locally," Microsoft added in a press release.

However, people in Flanders will not be required to activate or use the application. Moreover, specialists argue that a decentralised data vault is too complicated for the average user. Another important detail is that the personal data vault will only have a real impact if big tech companies like Meta or Google start using it. Those companies would then keep fewer data themselves. But for now, there is nothing to suggest that they want to work on it.


#FlandersNewsService | © SIPA USA

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