Many industries call for cross collaboration and data sharing between private and public sector. There are many reasons why this is not the done deal, one of which is privacy concerns by the parties involved (other concerns include IP issues and the risk of disclosing internal know-how for example). 

In this space, the European Commission seems to be setting an example on how they believe industry and public bodies can collaborate for the benefit of all parties involved and individuals. In this case, in the area of tourism. 

According to the European Commission's press release, the agreement, signed between each platform and Eurostat, on behalf of the European Commission, envisages:

  • Regular and reliable data from the four platforms: Shared data will include the number of nights booked and the number of guests. Data will be aggregated at the level of municipalities. Platforms agreed to share data on a continuous basis.
  • Privacy: The privacy of citizens, including guests and hosts, is protected in line with applicable EU legislation. Data will not allow individual citizens or property owners to be identified.
  • Publication of data: The data provided by the platforms will undergo statistical validation and be aggregated by Eurostat. Eurostat will publish data for all Member States as well as many individual regions and cities by combining the information obtained from the platforms. It is expected that the first statistics could be released in the second half of 2020.

This is a case to keep an eye on as its success (i.e. benefits for everyone involved, including the general public) could lead to more examples and clearer guidance on data sharing for research and statistical purposes, which, one can only hope, includes clarity as to where to draw the line on what can be considered "anonymous" in this context.