A new civil society network is being formed to discuss issues around personal data sharing within government.
The government has, on numerous occasions, acknowledged the potential huge benefits associated with utilising administrative data but there is significant public concern over personal privacy being compromised. This was demonstrated most recently with the care.data programme, which had to be delayed due to public concern over the sharing of patient data (although the focus of this work does not involve the care.data initiative, which is led by NHS England).
The new network, which will be led by the participation charity Involve, will explore the benefits, risks, limitations and governance for data sharing within government. It will talk to a range of interested public bodies from outside of government including academics, charities, small businesses, think tanks and other groups such as Big Brother Watch and the Open Rights Group. The process is expected to take around six months, after which a paper outlining the findings will be produced.
RSS President John Pullinger said: 'The Royal Statistical Society supports the sharing of data for the purpose of creating statistics in the public interest. We wholeheartedly welcome the new civil society network which will explore the issues involved, including the essential requirement to ensure that the public understand and trust what is being done with their data.'
Involve has set up a website, datasharing.org.uk which has an email contact list and information about current activities.