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Data sharing in government

This blog has been established to support civil society engagement with government departments to explore the benefits, risks, limitations and governance for sharing personal data within government.

The Government is keen to explore whether some of the barriers to sharing and linking different datasets in government can be removed in order to develop a better understanding of the economy and society, deliver more targeted and joined-up public services, and save public money lost through fraud, error and debt.

Currently, there are a myriad of restrictions on government’s ability to share citizens’ data between different departments and agencies. Data-sharing agreements between government departments are very complex and esoteric, and take considerable time to establish.

While the Government is keen to realise some of the benefits it anticipates from greater data sharing, it is also mindful of the need to maintain the trust and support of citizens to collect and use their data. Among other things, this will require a clear view of for what purposes data sharing is supported, the evidence for the benefits and risks, and the limitations, safeguards, governance and sanctions that need to be put in place.

The intention is to embark upon an open policy process that brings together those inside and outside government interested in maximising the benefits and minimising the downsides to citizens of personal data sharing within government. It is certain that we will not reach absolute agreement on everything, but the open policy process will ensure that a wide range of different points of view and expertise are taken into account, and that the areas of agreement and disagreement are well understood before any policy decisions are taken. The details of this open policy process, including the intended output and principles for working together, can be found on the What we’re doing section of this website.

While the focus of this work is data sharing across Government departments, it does not involve the care.data initiative which is led by NHS England. An outline of initial ideas and proposals from the Cabinet Office can be found on the Current proposals section of this website.

This process is being coordinated by Involve, a civil society organisation that works to open up decision making in government, and the Cabinet Office data sharing policy team.

We’re looking for civil society organisations, experts and stakeholders to get involved. Please show your interest by signing up to the mailing list.