On behalf of members, the RSS has responded to a government consultation into the role and remit of the proposed new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI).
The new CDEI was confirmed by the chancellor at the 2017 Autumn Budget to oversee the future development of algorithms and the ‘decisions’ they make, while maintaining public trust. Roger Taylor, the co-founder of Dr Foster and current chair of Ofqual, was announced as chair in June 2018; following that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) invited ‘all those who have an interest and stake in the way data use and AI are governed and regulated’ to submit their views to this consultation.
Having campaigned for a Council for Data Ethics since our 2016 Data Manifesto, the RSS very much welcomes the new centre. In our response to the consultation (PDF), we emphasised the importance of regulation and called for a new code of practice, given that a relatively small group of technology companies now hold immense amounts of data.
Our response emphasises the importance of data sharing and linkage for the benefit of society, and that public engagement is essential to gain public trust in doing so. We also feel it is important for the new CDEI to work with other institutions including the Information Commission and the Ada Lovelace Institute in an increasingly crowded data landscape.
Our submission voiced specific concerns expressed by some of our members: in particular that researchers have experienced restricted access to data. Lastly, we also noted the skills needed for innovation in this area.