Effective use of data for research under The Digital Economy Act 2017
With the highly specialist expertise in using data for research, and the national secure infrastructure, processes and procedures already established, the ADRN is well placed to become an expert partner in supporting the government and statistics authority to get the most from the Digital Economy Act.
This new legislation will help the UK use data for research effectively, safely and securely. It enables the transformation of personal information held by government departments into an immensely valuable resource of anonymised datasets for research purposes, ensuring we no longer lag behind our Nordic neighbours. Not only does the Act say this can be done, it also sets out how it shall be done. It doesn't just enable - it regulates.
Key elements of the Digital Economy Act 2017:
- The UK Statistics Authority has a special place in society. It is part of government but is answerable to Parliament rather than to Ministers. This makes it the ideal authority to issue codes of practice, and to accredit safe data, safe research teams, and safe places for them to work in.
- Government departments have been waiting for legislation like this for many years. They have always wanted to support evidence based policy making with better data, but have felt restrained by the lack of legislation dedicated to protecting personal privacy when data are linked and used for research. The Act provides this long-awaited framework.
- The Network is ideally placed to support the UK Statistics Authority and government departments in getting the most from the Digital Economy Act. The Network is an enabling group of people and organisations who are expert and experienced in data analysis. It is unified by its vision of a better society through better analysis. It operates safe places for data to be held and used by researchers; it scrutinises projects for methodological soundness and public benefit; it works with departments to make sure the datasets they provide are fully anonymised and readily available for crucial research projects exactly when those projects need them; and it trains researchers in respect for personal privacy and data security.
- The Network stands ready to implement the Code of Practice and the accreditation standards of the UK Statistics Authority. It stands ready to anonymise and link personal information and transform it into safe data for analysis. And it has safe research centres ready and waiting to host researchers eager to use these new analytical resources to provide insight and evidence to improve all our lives. The Network has benefited from early investment so that it now has two years of preparation and experience. It has identified the problems, worked on solutions, built an infrastructure, and is now 'shovel ready'.
> Data Point podcast: Melanie Wright, Director of ADS briefly discusses her involvement with advising on the drafting of the Digital Economy Act 2017.