The Royal Statistical Society was among those giving evidence to MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday, 1 December 2015 as the Science and Technology Committee reviewed evidence in its Big Data Inquiry, which considers whether the government is doing enough to ensure that the UK can benefit from the ongoing data revolution.
In the committee’s final hearing, RSS executive director Hetan Shah attended for the RSS.
The RSS has already provided written evidence to the inquiry, which seeks to highlight safeguards for statisticians, data scientists and researchers to address individual and ethical concerns. It also makes a number of other points:
- That there is a data trust deficit among the public with regard to how organisations handle their data
- That there should be balanced investment across sectors, not only in big data holdings but also big data capabilities, including safe processing and statistical and analytical skills
- That big data is an opportunity for official and government statistics, especially for the use of ‘big’ administrative data, but that our data sharing arrangements are in need of review
- That faster progress should be made on open data, and that an understanding of what users need from data releases will lead to better results from opening up government data.
It also points to the RSS data manifesto which sets out ten broad areas on which government policy should focus to make a positive difference.
Input from others to the inquiry, including the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the Wellcome Trust and the UK’s Information Commissioner, have addressed questions from MPs about how opportunities from big data are being taken forward, data sharing, data protection and informed consent. All evidence published by the Inquiry can be viewed on parliament's website.
Watch it here: