Ministry of Justice enquires into data sharing

Added by Stephane Goldstein on 18 December 2007 18:40

Here’s news about another review, this time abĀ­out data sharing.  The Ministry of Justice has just issued a consultation paper on the use and sharing of personal information in the public and private sectors.  Essentially, this takes the form of a structured questionnaire, with little introductory information. The independent review is intended to "consider whether there should be any changed to the way the Data Protection Act 1998 operates and the options for implementing such changes." So the sort of questions it seeks to address include, how is personal information being used? How can society be sure that is being used lawfully? Who holds the information and to what end? And what impact is the sharing of information having on private lives?

The review is being conducted by Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, and Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust. Although the exercise is not specifically geared to research data, the territory that it covers is extremely relevant to organisations that fund research using data drawn from human subjects or populations, such as the Medical Research Council or the Economic and Social Research Council.

The deadline for responses to the consultation is on 15 February.  If you have an interest or involvement in personal research data, please give some thought to responding - this is an important issue.  The RIN is looking to organise a meeting during the course of January to bring together interested parties from the research and information worlds, so that they can compare notes and discuss possible ways of addressing the questions.  We haven’t yet got a date for this, but please contact me at  if you are interested in taking part.

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