September 5, 2018 / 12:47 PM / 16 days ago

Microsoft flags dangers to EU of plans to limit data use

* Firms fear restrictive data use may hurt EU digital goals

* EU lawmakers to vote on copyright reform proposals Sept 12

* Lawmakers, EU countries, EU Commission have to agree rules

By Foo Yun Chee

ATHENS, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Microsoft said on Wednesday that EU lawmakers' copyright reforms limiting the use of potentially valuable data to non-profit bodies could damage the European Union's digital development.

Companies, research bodies and organisations such as Wikipedia have stepped up their lobbying ahead of a European Parliament vote next week which will determine its position ahead of talks with member states and the European Commission.

Scientists, researchers and some firms have questioned lawmakers' willingness to beef up the Commission's proposal in favour of the creative industries and non-profit bodies.

The draft proposal on the table could hold back EU attempts to catch up with Japan, Singapore, and China in data science, research and artificial intelligence and have "a great number of unintended negative consequences", Microsoft said.

"By confining the exception for text and data mining to only a small group of non-profit research organizations, Article 3 cuts off promising research by public and private partnerships and prevent uptake of new technologies by European businesses large and small," it said in a statement.

German drugmaker Bayer, which says mining vast quantities of data is invaluable in its efforts to develop innovative drugs against diseases, is similarly critical.

"Excluding private research, start-ups and companies from reaping the full benefits of this technology will undoubtedly reduce Europe's competitiveness," it said in a note seen by Reuters which highlighted Chinese and U.S. rivals. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee Editing by Alexander Smith)

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