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Ada Lovelace Institute hosts ‘Taking back control of data: scrutinising the UK’s plans to reform the GDPR’

Exploring the foundational premises for delivering ‘world-leading data protection standards’ that benefit people and achieve societal goals

5 October 2021

Uses of data: research, justice and medical research

On 10 September, the UK Government published its proposal for amending the current data protection regime (the UK GDPR). The ambition is to ‘create a bold new data regime’ with a pro-growth and pro-innovation focus that positions the UK as a global leader in science and AI research. This would support the Government’s ambitions to be at the forefront of using data in emergency responses, and to become an international hub for data transfers. It would also shift the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)’s duties towards using people’s data responsibly to achieve economic and social goals. 

Throughout October and November the Ada Lovelace Institute will be hosting a series of five events, to explore the foundational premises for delivering ‘world-leading data protection standards’ that benefit people and work towards achieving societal goals. 

Our aim is to unpack some of the framings and problem statements in the consultation document, understand what benefits and challenges the new proposals bring, explore different approaches for achieving the intended goals and what might be missing from the consultation. See full schedule below.

We’ll kickstart the event series with a broad questioning of ‘innovation’: what it means to different people in different contexts (such as technological, legal and ethical), what its impact is on society and how the proposed changes to data protection might deliver responsible innovation. 

In the second event we’ll bring forward some of the lessons learned from the pandemic, asking whether data protection legislation was a barrier to data sharing and data-driven innovation during COVID-19, and what opportunities and potential challenges the proposed modifications present.

The third event will focus on what constitutes a robust accountability framework for data and AI systems, what its role is in delivering social benefits, and which rights, controls and safeguards need to be put in place in the context of increased data collection and sharing. 

Going deeper, in our fourth event we’ll discuss how we can redesign the concept of fairness, and question whether fair use of data for AI can be achieved through technical solutions (like collecting and analysing more personal data in order to monitor bias in AI systems).

Finally, we’ll focus on what the regulatory framework for AI research should look like, ask what’s the role of data protection in conducting responsible AI and question whether more data always leads to better AI.

The consultation is open until Friday 19 November 2021, and this event series is intended to bring a range of perspectives and inform the discussion around some of the key areas of the reform.

The Ada Lovelace Institute will also be developing a written response to the consultation, drawing from our previous and current research into public attitudes and ethical best practices.

Other organisations are also engaging with the consultation, developing tools to help plan the consultation response and convening roundtable discussions, for example the ODI, Wellcome and the Institute for Government. You can find the full list of organisations convening events to inform the consultation response under ‘data reform’ here.


Event schedule

Session 1: Responsible innovation: what does it mean and how can we make it happen?

Monday 11 October, 14:00-15:00 BST

The first event in our series focuses on responsible innovation. This is the focus of chapter 1 of the consultation, where Government suggests that parts of the law present barriers to responsible innovation.

This event interrogates the pro-growth, pro-innovation framing of the proposed data reform and explores questions such as:

  • What is the impact of innovation on society? Is innovation always good? What does responsible innovation mean?
  • What do we know about the impact of regulation on innovation (in the data/tech sector or in other domains)? What is the historical relationship between regulation and innovation?
  • How would innovation be different if these proposals were in place? What are the benefits, and what are the potential challenges?

Watch the session:


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Speakers:

Tommaso Valletti, Professor of Economics, Imperial College
Katie Lips, Head of Digital & Scams Policy, Which?
Ravi Naik, Legal Director, AWO

Chair:

Carly Kind, Director, Ada Lovelace Institute

Session 2: Lessons learned from COVID-19: how should data usage during the pandemic shape the future?

Thursday 14 October, 14:00-15:00 BST

The second event in our series focuses on lessons learned from COVID-19. Through the consultation, the Government suggests that existing regulations are a barrier to sharing data, and considers changes to rules around data processing in the public interest, during times of emergency, and by private companies on behalf of Government.

This event will examine evidence to interrogate the successes and failures of data sharing during the pandemic, whether the Government’s proposed reforms provide sufficient safeguards, and discuss questions including:

  • What lessons can we learn from the use of data during the pandemic?
  • What opportunities and potential challenges are brought by the new proposals?
  • What safeguards and limitations need to be put in place for processing data in the public interest and on emergency grounds?

Watch the session:

This video is embedded with YouTube’s ‘privacy-enhanced mode’ enabled although it is still possible that if you play this video it may add cookies. Read our Privacy policy and Digital best practice for more on how we use digital tools and data.

Speakers:

Sabina Leonelli, Professor of Philosophy and History of Science, University of Exeter
Cori Crider, Director, Foxglove Legal
Edward Dove, Lecturer in Health Law and Regulation, University of Edinburgh
Pye Nyunt, Head of Insight & Innovation, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

Chair:

Imogen Parker, Associate Director (Policy)

Session 3: Accountable AI: a route to effective regulation

Wednesday 20 October, 14:00-15:00 BST

The third event in our series focuses on accountable AI. This theme is prevalent through chapters 1 and 2 of the consultation, particularly the sections on automated decision-making and accountability frameworks, where the Government suggests accountability mechanisms present barriers to innovation.

This event will interrogate the assumption that accountability measures are barriers and whether they can also deliver benefits to society, and explore questions including:

  • What does a robust accountability framework for data and AI systems look like?
  • How do we ensure accountability systems go beyond tick box exercises and make a positive difference?
  • How can we design appropriate obligations, rights and controls to match the ethical, legal and societal implications of automated decision making?

Watch the session:

This video is embedded with YouTube’s ‘privacy-enhanced mode’ enabled although it is still possible that if you play this video it may add cookies. Read our Privacy policy and Digital best practice for more on how we use digital tools and data.

Speakers:

David Erdos, Co-Director CIPIL, University of Cambridge
Lilian Edwards, Professor of Law, Innovation & Society, Newcastle University
Cosmina Dorobantu, Director for Public Policy, Alan Turing Institute
Jennifer Cobbe, Trust & Technology Initiative, University of Cambridge
Divij Joshi, PhD candidate, UCL Faculty of Laws

Chair: 

Valentina Pavel, Legal Researcher

Session 4: Redesigning fairness: concepts, contexts and complexities

Wednesday 27 October, 14:00-15:00 BST

The fourth event in our series focuses on fairness in the use of data and artificial intelligence. This is a particular focus of chapter 1 of the consultation, where Government seeks views on how ‘fairness’ should be defined and delivered and suggests collecting more sensitive personal data in order to monitor bias.

This event will explore questions such as:

  • How should we think about ‘fairness’ and how can fair use of data for AI be achieved?
  • What obligations, assessments and safeguards are necessary and appropriate for trustworthy AI systems? 
  • What opportunities and challenges are brought by the proposed measures?

Speakers:

Agathe Balayn, PhD candidate, Delft University of Technology
Damian Clifford, Senior Lecturer, Australian National University College of Law
Renée Cummings, AI Ethicist, Data Activist in Residence, University of Virginia and Community Scholar, Columbia University
Sandra Wachter, Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute

Chair:

Reema Patel, Associate Director (Engagement)

Session 5: Responsible AI research: challenges and opportunities

Wednesday 3 November, 14:00-15:00 BST

The fifth event in our series focuses on responsible AI research. This is a particular focus of chapter 1 of the consultation, where the Government proposes to consolidate and change existing rules around the use of personal data for research purposes.

This event will interrogate the idea that more data necessarily leads to better research, and explore questions including:

  • What does responsible AI research look like, and what role does data protection play in conducting responsible AI research?
  • What have the impacts of data protection regulations been on research culture, data sharing and access to data?
  • What have the impacts of data protection regulations been on the ability of researchers to create beneficial research? 

Speakers:

Margaret Mitchell, Chief Ethics Scientist, HuggingFace
Dr Gabrielle Samuel, King’s College London
Brhmie Balaram, Head of AI Research & Ethics, NHS AI Lab

Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, Associate Professor, Imperial College London

Chair:

Andrew Strait, Associate Director (Research Partnerships)

We are using Zoom for virtual events open to more than 40 attendees. Although there are issues with Zoom’s privacy controls, when reviewing available solutions we found that there isn’t a perfect product and we have chosen Zoom for its usability and accessibility. Find out more here.

 

A recording of each session will be available on this page within 48 hours of the event.

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