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Delivering responsible data through the National Data Strategy

Examining how the commitment to responsible data in the UK's National Data Strategy could be realised and what it misses

19 October 2020

On 9 September 2020, the UK Government published its National Data Strategy for open consultation. The strategy aims to explore how the UK can enable better use of data ‘across businesses, government, civil society and individuals’ and centres on four pillars: data foundations, data skills, data availability and responsible data.

The Ada Lovelace Institute welcomes this consultation and supports the Government’s aim to ensure data is used responsibly and in the interests of people and society. As part of our consultation response, we’ll be convening conversations across our networks.

We’re working in partnership with the Open Data Institute, Royal Statistical Society, Institute for Government and Centre for Public Data to co-ordinate discussion around the strategy’s four pillars and think about how best to achieve the aims outlined in the National Data Strategy.

Among these discussions, we’ll focus particular attention on pillar four: Responsibility: driving safe and trusted use of data.

In the National Data Strategy, the term ‘responsible data’ means data that is handled in a way that is lawful, secure, fair, ethical, sustainable and accountable, while also supporting innovation and research.

We will stimulate discussion that considers whether the priorities outlined in the National Data Strategy will add up to responsible data practice and consider what might be missing. One of the major challenges for responsible data is putting principles and aims into meaningful practice, so we will ask how the Government might achieve its objectives with data, drawing on international practice and the latest research. We will specifically be looking into:

  • Practical mechanisms to make algorithmic decision-making transparent
  • Tools and research needed to monitor, evaluate and audit the social impact of data-driven systems
  • How regulatory measures can facilitate responsible innovation
  • Metrics to investigate if data regulation is fit for purpose when it comes to innovation.

Our main takeaways from the event, which build on the key messages from the discussion, are summarised in the report below. We are indebted to all the participants in the event, in particular this write-up draws heavily from the presentations given by Seb Bacon, EBM Datalab, University of Oxford; Raegan MacDonald, Mozilla; Swee Leng Harris, Luminate; Dr Kristina Irion, Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam; Jesper Lund, IT Pol; Dr Sanjay Sharma, Brunel University; Mathias Vermeulen, AWO.

Getting data right: Perspectives on the UK National Data Strategy 2020

Read the summary of the discussions from the ‘Getting data right’ series of workshops held with experts and practitioners about how the four pillars of the Strategy could best be addressed and realised practically and sustainably.

We welcome other’s views on this, please get in touch by emailing with ‘UK Data Strategy’ in the subject.

Getting data right report cover

Perspectives on the UK National Data Strategy 2020

Getting data right