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Government will set up data ethics council

The UK government, which appears quite busy at the moment already, has confirmed plans to set up an ethics council focused on the handling of data.

Numerous reports suggest that the idea has been prompted by the increased use of Big Data in the public sector and elsewhere. It was recommended by the Science and Technology Committee a couple of weeks ago and is going to sit within the Alan Turing Institute.

Chair of the committee, Conservative MP Nicola Blackwood, said in a statement: “Big Data has enormous potential to improve public services and business productivity, but there are also justified privacy concerns when personal data is used in new applications, services and research. Getting the balance between the benefits and the risks right is vital.”

Blackwood was among the critics of the so-called Snoopers’ Charter earlier this year, so anyone expecting her to hold the party line blindly is likely to be disappointed – we can expect independence of thought here.