Principles on handling public sector data drafted to protect public interest

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

A government advisory group has drafted a set of principles (PDF) for any organisation working with public sector data to ensure that it is used in the public interest - regardless of whether they themselves are a public or private sector organisation.

The nine principles were drafted by the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI), an independent body which advises the government on public sector data. Its members are drawn from the worlds of business, economic, academic, ICT, legal and public sector communities (which includes the local government and health sectors) across the UK.

Of the nine principles, the first one is singled out as a fundamental principle, which places the responsibility of ensuring the data is used in the public interest on the government. It also suggests that there should be an annual official report ‘specifying how this duty has been met’.

Other principles outline how the data held by public sector information holder (known as a PSIH) should be dealt with, in the event of it becoming privatised or converted to a public corporation.

David Rhind, who chairs APPSI, wrote to Simon Hughes (PDF), current minister for Justice and Civil Liberties saying: ‘APPSI members believe that having such a set of principles enshrined in practice will be very much in the public interest.’

Hetan Shah, executive director of the RSS said ‘We welcome the thought that has gone into these principles around how the public sector should cultivate and maintain its data and information. Had these principles been in place and followed at the time, we would not have lost the valuable Postcode Address File during the privatisation of Royal Mail.’ The RSS wrote to Ofcom about the matter of Royal Mail in March 2013.

Open Data David Rhind

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