Feeds

Report: Involve IT experts in releasing gov datasets

All too easy to violate privacy without tech insight

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A review (84-page/927KB PDF) of information transparency and privacy commissioned by the Cabinet Office has concluded that IT experts should help decide whether to release datasets and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) should have a greater technical awareness.

The review was led by Dr Kieron O'Hara, senior research fellow in electronics and computer science at the University of Southampton. In his report, O'Hara says the involvement of technology experts in a procedure for pre-release screening of data to ensure respect for privacy should be decided on a case-by-case basis. The procedure would include screening of user requests, consideration of potential privacy threats and the maintenance of a data asset register.

The register should set out which data sets were controlled, what they contain, and what decisions have been taken about their release, O'Hara proposes. It could be centrally curated, or kept by individual departments and agencies.

O'Hara said: "Technological developments have created so many imponderable problems... We need better institutions and conversations to screen data for the privacy implications of their release, and we need to include technologists in these conversations to a much greater degree than has historically been the case."

The ICO has made "welcome strides" in recent months toward greater awareness of technical issues, the report says. In particular it has appointed a principal policy adviser in this area and created a technology reference panel.

But the document says that "the severe technical demands made by cutting-edge research in de-anonymisation means that more effort is needed in this direction".

O'Hara says that these and other recommendations, such as creating sector transparency panels and publishing guidance for best practice on data.gov.uk, will allow the integration of privacy protection with transparency, and help preserve public confidence.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: "Over the past 12 months we have begun transforming the relationship between the public and the State.

"The public can now see how government spends its money, track crime in their area street-by-street, and hold ministers to account.

"The government is committed to ensuring that ongoing releases of data are done in a way that provides maximum transparency of data while applying the appropriate data protection safeguards."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.