Digital economy bill set to ease rules on public data sharing

Written by Colin Marrs on 19 May 2016 in News
News

The government has announced that it will introduce legislation to ease the sharing of data held by public bodies.

The proposal was announced as part of a package of measures to be included in a new Digital Economy Bill, unveiled as part of yesterday’s Queen’s Speech.

It is hoped that the better use of data can help deliver better public services, though many initiatives have been hampered by fears over the legality and safety of sharing some datasets.

The government is understood to have been working with civil liberties organisations to help shape the new legislation and avoid an outcry over breaches of citizen privacy.


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In notes released alongside the speech, the government said that it would “consult on better sharing of publically-held data sets to improve service delivery whilst maintaining safeguards on privacy”.

It said that sharing data could also help produce world-leading research and statistics, as well as reducing public sector fraud “which costs the country billions”.

In addition, the government said that public authorities would be “empowered to cut the billions of overdue debts owed to government by allowing early identification of and help for people with debts spread over a number of public agencies”.

In addition, the proposed bill would give the UK Statistics Authority better access to data to produce more timely and accurate official statistics.

Freeing up data rules will also provide researchers with more complete and accurate evidence to inform analysis and aid policy design and delivery, the government claimed.

The Bill would also introduce a new Broadband Universal Service Obligation to give all citizens and businesses the legal right to a fast broadband connection.

The government said that it expects the minimum speed to be at least 10Mbps, although it said that Ofcom would be given powers to review and raise this over time.

In addition, the government said it will introduce new and simpler planning rules for building broadband infrastructure.

A new Electronic Communications Code could also the cost and simplify the building of mobile and superfast broadband infrastructure.

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