Gov data plans ‘must promote ethics,’ say IT experts

The government’s post-Brexit data strategy to boost trade and healthcare is welcome but must also incentivise ethics and focus on climate change, industry experts have said.

“We welcome the recognition of the key role that government regulation and regulators have to play in delivering these objectives,” said Dr Bill Mitchell, director of policy at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

But Mitchell urged the government to be clearer about how it plans to build on and maintain existing international adequacy agreements as well as the role of data, digital regulation, and of digital regulators in building public trust.

On Thursday, the government unveiled plans for data partnerships with the US, Australia, and the Republic of Korea.

These partnerships will make it easier for UK organisations to exchange data with foreign countries by "unlocking data flows" and minimising "unjustified" barriers or conditions, according to the government.

The move will build on data partnerships the UK already has in place with New Zealand, Japan, and Canada.

The move came after digital secretary Oliver Dowden said that GDPR involved “needless bureaucracy” and that the UK should look to protect privacy “in as light a touch way as possible” in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“Regulation should clearly incentivise stakeholders to advance digital technologies to solve key societal challenges, such as climate change, an ageing population, and the digital divide,” added Mitchell. “Data governance and regulation also needs to foster ethical, inclusive, and sustainable innovation and has an important role in developing competitive markets so that they favour organisations and professionals that are highly competent, ethical and accountable.”

He said that in order to implement these principles, regulators should establish collaborative partnerships with companies that use digital technologies as well as those that develop them.

The BCS director also suggested that regulators should work collaboratively with learned societies, national academies and professional bodies that have expertise in advancing professional practice in technology for the benefit of the public.

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