Skip to main content

Government agree to set up 'Council of Data Ethics'

26 April 2016

The Science and Technology Committee has received a response from the Government to 'The big data dilemma' report produced by the Committee on 12 February 2016.

The response has been published as a Special Report on Tuesday 26 April (HC 992).

Chair's comments

 Nicola Blackwood MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"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.

I am pleased therefore that the Government has accepted our call to set up a 'Council of Data Science Ethics' to address the growing legal and ethical challenges associated with balancing privacy, anonymisation of data, security and public benefit ."

Government Response

In the response, the Government:

  • agrees the Committee's recommendation to set up a 'Council of Data Science Ethics'. The Government is developing an "ethical framework for government data science", details of which will be published "in the next few months"
  • has asked the existing E-Infrastructure Leadership Council "to refresh their strategy on research infrastructure"
  • will not immediately, as the Committee urged, introduce criminal penalties for serious data breaches, but will instead undertake a 'stress-test' review of existing sanctions as the new EU Data Protection Regulation is implemented
  • will not introduce, as the Committee recommended, compulsory data-protection audits of local authorities because of progress already being made on a voluntary basis


The Committee published its report on the big data dilemma in February 2016.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto