Statistics and Registration Service Act
The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 only applies to data designated as ‘Official Statistics’ and includes statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), central government, and devolved administrations.
It provides that ‘personal information’ which relates to and identifies an individual or business, and which is held or disclosed by the Statistics Authority, is confidential (SRS Act, section 39(1)). Any unlawful disclosure of personal information by an individual or data holding organisation outside of the legal gateways is a criminal offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment (SRS Act, section 39(9)). If the identity of that person is specified, can be deduced from the information, or can be deduced from the information taken together with any other published information, then this will constitute an offence.
The Act does permit certain specified disclosures of personal information held by it (SRS Act, subsection 39(1)), which includes to ‘an approved researcher’, i.e. an individual to whom the Statistics Authority has granted access for the purposes of statistical research (SRS Act, section 39(5)). ‘Approved researcher’ is not defined by the SRS Act, but the criteria for access require the Statistics Authority to consider whether the individual is a fit and proper person, and the purpose for which access is requested.
Further readingStatistics and Registration Services Act 2007 – Act in full (PDF) (245Kb)