EU data threat discussed at RSS poverty stats conference

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

Concerns over proposed amendments to data protection laws currently being scrutinised by the European Parliament have been raised today at a conference on poverty statistics hosted by the RSS.

The conference, which is being co-hosted with both the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Resolution Foundation, features a host of experts in poverty statistics. As well as representatives from JRF and Resolution Foundation, speakers also include professor of social policy at York University Jonathan Bradshaw; BBC News home affairs editor Mark Easton and former national statistician Jil Matheson. 

The new legislation will be among issues being discussed which, if passed through the European Parliament and Council of Ministers later this year, would replace the Data Protection Act in the UK. It would tighten rules on the use of research data, including forcing researchers to seek explicit consent from people before re-using any health-related information. This would restrict researchers’ access to health and social data and could put an end to many large-scale studies into social conditions and poverty, therefore making it harder to intervene effectively.

Hetan Shah, executive director of the Royal Statistical Society, said: ‘Data privacy is extremely important, and people must have confidence their personal details are not being used improperly. But if this new rule is passed in Europe, it could effectively tie the hands of charities researching health-related poverty and deprivation in the UK, making the solutions even harder to find. I urge all British MEPs to listen to our concerns and push back against these plans.’

The RSS has issued a press release highlighting its key concerns regarding these issues. A report and slides from the conference will be published on StatsLife in due course. In the meantime, you can follow discussion around the event on Twitter using the hashtag #povertystats.

European Commission (EC) Data privacy Poverty statistics

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