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Society and Culture Society and Culture

Create a new Data Use and Ethics Commission

Last updated: 11:30am 17 January 2019

To create a sound ethical framework for how data is used, we will institute an expert Data Use and Ethics Commission to advise regulators and parliament on the nature of data use and how best to prevent its abuse. The Commission will help us to develop the principles and rules that will give people confidence that their data is being handled properly.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.79

Our verdict

This policy sits inside the section of the manifesto dedicated to making the UK “the safest place to be online”. In recent years, scandals such as the one involving Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica company have made the public more aware of the value of their personal data, and the lengths some individuals and organisations will go to in order to gain access to it. The rights and wrongs, the ethics, of data use is a complex area ranging from identity crime to broader human rights issues.

The proposed Data Use and Ethics Commission in this policy would be designed to help government navigate the complexities of data use in the internet age. This is a straightforward promise to create a body that did not previously exist.

On 13 June 2018, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched a consultation on the creation of a Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) with a remit “to help ensure that those who govern and regulate the use of data across sectors do so effectively”. It’s a slightly different name, not the “Commission” mentioned in the manifesto, but this is certainly a body designed with the same objectives in mind.

In November 2018, in its response to the consultation, the government announced it would be going ahead with the CDEI. Board members were announced at the same time, and the new CDEI has begun work commissioned in the 2018 Budget.

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation is fully operational so this policy is ‘done’. Follow this policy for updates.

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