The EU has provisionally agreed to the Data Governance Act

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The public sector creates huge datasets that have the potential to generate equally huge public benefits if used for the right kinds of data-driven innovations. The EU has provisionally agreed to the Data Governance Act, and the UK’s national data strategy and public sector policies make it clear that the UK wants to create the same kind of capability, too. Regulations like this are extremely important as they help participating organisations understand the risks and responsibilities involved.

The risks associated with public sector data sharing are high, and the consequences of sharing any outdated or inaccurate data are significant. Public sector bodies collect sensitive, personal data that exposes individuals to risks that may be difficult for others to fully understand. We need to consider the steps that individuals might take to control this risk, such as taking data protection into their own hands by providing inaccurate information or declining to participate. This could lead to further marginalisation and underrepresentation, which would have consequences for public authority functions in the long term.

Governments increasingly need accurate personal data on their citizens in order to perform the tasks expected of them, so regulation ensuring that such personal data is kept safe is not only essential, it must also be enforced.