Government launches consultation on data sharing rules

Six-week process to cover codes of practice in implementation of Digital Economy Act

The Government has launched a consultation on data sharing for public services as part of the implementation of the Digital Economy Act.

Published at the end of last week by the Government Digital Service (GDS), HM Passport Office and the UK Statistics Authority, it is aimed at laying the ground for codes of practice, statements of principles and draft regulations, and set to run until 2 November.

It is testing the water on attitudes to its plans for managing various elements of the act, including rules on data sharing in digital government, changes to data systems, civil registration and public service delivery, fraud and debt.

Damian GreenIn the foreword, Minister for the Cabinet Office Damian Green (pictured) reiterates the advantages that can be gained from sharing data, such as obtaining insights and reducing fraud, but acknowledges that there is a major issue around public trust in how it is used.

“Though these new provisions provide exciting opportunities to transform public services, we need to ensure that they are exercised in ways that inspire the trust of citizens that the data will be held securely and used appropriately,” he says.

“Our measures are designed to give people the confidence that their data is protected and those who misuse it will be held to account.”

Lingering worries

The act was rushed through Parliament in April shortly before the dissolution for the general election, and raised concerns in some quarters that some of the worries about the data protection had not been fully addressed.

A group of academics, privacy activitists and officials of membership organisations signed an open letter to the Daily Telegraph claiming it would weaken the protection of sensitive information.

One of the leading signees, co-chair of the Cabinet Office’s Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group Jerry Fishenden, told UKAuthority that much would depend on an overhaul of the codes of the practice.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0