The government has agreed to set up a Council of Data Science Ethics, as recommended in the Science and Technology Committee’s ‘Big data dilemma’ report (PDF) produced back in February 2016.
Nicola Blackwood, who chairs the committee, explained that such a group could ‘address the growing legal and ethical challenges associated with balancing privacy, anonymisation of data, security and public benefit.’
The government response to the report, published yesterday, concurred with the STC report that the Alan Turing Institute is well-placed to play a leading role in this area and said it was currently developing an ‘ethical framework for government data science’, details of which would be published in the next few months.
The idea of a data ethics council was discussed at length at a recent event hosted by the RSS and was put forward by the RSS when our executive director Hetan Shah gave evidence to the Science and Technology Committee back in December 2015 (as documented in point 80 of the Big Data Dilemma report).
Hetan says: ‘The RSS is delighted to see our idea of a Council for Data Ethics picked up first by the Science and Technology Committee and now by the government.
'We believe that in a fast changing data landscape we need governance institutions which will preserve public trust in the use of data and this Council should provide that.’
The above image shows the British Library, which is where the Turing Institute is based.