What is a data sharing agreement and why does it matter?

We’re living in a data-rich world, and if you’re not already engaging in healthy data sharing practices then you’re falling beyond the competition. No matter your industry or business size, data sharing is essential to informing your decisions and helping you deliver better products and services to your customers – and it all starts with a data sharing agreement.


Data sharing agreement GDPR

When it comes to understanding a data sharing agreement, the GDPR is a good place to start. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation came into effect in 2018 after two years of rolling implementation. It was the largest such data regulation of its kind at the time and has had a knock-on effect around the world as other regions look to regulate the way data is shared.

This is important because when formulating your data sharing agreement, you’ll need to understand how the GDPR – and similar data regulations around the world – plays a part. If your enterprise engages with entities or collects data from customers in the EU, it is subject to the GDPR. So you’ll need to do your due diligence and read up on the legal ramifications of data sharing in the region.


Data sharing agreement checklist

To ensure all your data sharing activities are above board and in line with any relevant regulations, it’s important that you define everything in writing before the sharing begins. Most data sharing agreements include some common rules that are binding for all enterprises participating in the initiative, so check off the most important inclusions:

  • What type of data will be shared?
  • How many parties will be participating?
  • What is the purpose of sharing this data?
  • What are the safeguards around the data and company privacy?
  • How can the data be used – and are there any exclusions?
  • In what circumstances can the agreement be terminated?
  • What are the general provisions of the agreement?

There’s plenty more to consider when formulating your data sharing agreement (including sections that will be unique to your industry), but answering these questions will help get the ball rolling.


Data sharing agreement template

Below is a simplified data sharing agreement template that lists some of the essential inclusions. It is by no means exhaustive, so be sure to speak to a data expert and your legal team before finalising your data sharing agreement.

  • Title: The name of the agreement and who authored it.
  • Introductory paragraph: Outlining why this data sharing agreement has been created and for what purposes. It should also include information on any relevant regulations the agreement falls under (e.g. GDPR).
  • Confidentiality: How will the participating parties’ personal information – and the data itself – be protected?
  • Third parties: Clarify what the data can be used for and whether or not it can be shared with third parties.
  • Publishing: Are any parties allowed to share, publish or release any insights from the shared data?
  • Ownership: Outline that the shared data still belongs to the original owner and will be returned on an agreed date.
  • Authority: Leave room for signatures, names and other legalities.


It might seem like a complex task to an outsider, but once you get your data sharing agreement in place you’ll be able to derive an incredible range of insights from new data.

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