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Open Data Institute calls for government data policy, whoever wins

The Open Data Institute (ODI) put up a blog last week about the forthcoming general election and to the surprise of precisely no-one, it’s calling for greater focus on data policy.

The idea is that although nobody is going to cast their vote purely on the strength of a data policy’s existence or otherwise, but the importance of the area is considerable and existing legislation isn’t enough to cover it. The emergence of the first chief digital officer for London suggests that the capital at least is moving in the same direction.

Sentences on data policy

The ODI’s response to the changing circumstances has been to put up a set of sentences it would like to see in the incoming government’s policies – in other words it would like them incorporated into everybody’s manifesto, regardless of the fact that there appears to be a clear front-runner at the moment.

These include a recognition that skills need investment and to be developed; that data assets need investment and the importance of innovation. Curiously the blog doesn’t mention that, for example, the government has already acknowledged the skills gap and started to take steps to address them (your view on whether these steps are adequate will depend on your politics and your estimation of what’s achievable, of course).

Other areas in the blog include ethics, equity and engagement. In terms of equity, the call for tax incentives for companies such as Google to invest in the UK is going to raise some eyebrows given the existing controversies about these matters.

The ODI plans to issue further commentary once the parties have published their manifestos, relating to what’s in them in context of the digital world. New Statesman Tech will report on this and offer its own view; at this stage the concern is that the government has made a number of moves already, including the establishment of the National Cyber Security Centre this year, and there seems to be little acknowledgment of that from a number of commentators.