The government needs to strengthen data sharing rules, a new report by the Information Commissioner and the director of the Wellcome Trust has said.
The Data Sharing Review said there is a “lack of transparency and accountability” in how many businesses dealt with personal information, and confusion remains around the Data Protection Act. Legislation is “deeply confusing”, the report said.
Report authors Richard Thomas, Information Commissioner, and Dr Mark Walport, director of the medical research charity the Wellcome Trust, urged the government to “clarify and simplify” the legal framework governing data sharing, including provisions to guarantee better and more authoritative guidance for those involved.
They added that the Information Commissioner’s Office needs more effective powers and to be better resourced, if it is to be truly effective.
Westminster itself had put in place projects that focused on the potential benefits of data sharing yet it was ignoring the risks of “ambitious programmes” involving data, the review said, advising the government not to assume data sharing was in itself a benefit.
“Data sharing in and of itself is neither good nor bad,” the authors wrote, advising the government to look at exactly what was being shared and what the consequences could be. It should not consider data sharing as an “unconditional good”, they said.