Data sharing consultation launched

Retro image of male and female business partners reviewing business statistical graphs on a digital tablet sitting in a bright office at white desk.

A consultation has been launched by the UK government that will examine the use and sharing of data within the public sector.

There are plans for the consultation to last for a period of eight weeks while it looks at the issues of data sharing and data security, with the overall aim of making lives easier. Ideally, the process will identify opportunities to boost the sharing of data. Matt Hancock, minister for the cabinet office, has said: “Data is the fuel for the digital revolution.” He believes that data sharing can help to improve people’s lives. The consultation is also aimed at improving data security.

The government’s proposal has three distinct sections. The first is an improvement of public services enabling public agencies to swap data for the benefit of the general welfare of the public. Access would be provided to information such as registrations of births and marriages. The second section would allow for the tracking of fraud and debt, allowing citizens that have debt owed to different government agencies to band them together and cover them with one payment system. At the present time, it is estimated that more than £24 billion is owed to the government.

The third section would look at using personal data for research and statistics. The idea is that the Office for National Statistics would be able to use government-collected data for research for public benefit. The consultation hopes to find ways to cut down the distance between the authorities and citizens, while keeping in mind the important issue of data security.