One of the challenges that can cause difficulties in establishing efficient and effective data linkage projects is the considerable variation in the interpretation of the legal and regulatory environment. Data custodians may often be unsure whether they can legally and appropriately make data available for linkages and so, to be on the safe side, turn down requests for access to data.
To address this, we will look to develop a Privacy Advsiory and Ethics Committee.
The Privacy Advisory and Ethics Committee will be made-up of people from a range of organisations and sectors with experience and expertise of legal, technical and public acceptability issues from different organisations. It will include lay-representation and will be informed by information and data on the views of the broader public.
An important element of the committee will be strong channels of communication with related bodies across the UK and, in time, internationally. The Committee will have at least one member who also sits on the UK Advisory Council for Access to Administrative Data.
The primary functions of the committee will be to oversee and guide the direction and operations of the Data Sharing and Linking Centre, and to offer advice to data custodians on cross-sectoral linkage applications. The development of this capacity will be taken forward in close discussion with public bodies across Scotland to avoid overlap, additional bureaucracy and to ensure added-value.
There will be no legal or regulatory requirement for committee advice for any linkage to occur, but we aim in the longer term to bring together organisations and to create a cross sectoral committee that has the mandate from the organisations to make recommendations as to whether or not data linkages are conducted, giving advice that is proportionate to the risks involved, such as privacy and reputational risks, and in light of the public benefits that would accrue if the linkage took place. The prototype will be the N-PAC (National Privacy Advisory Committee) being developed for SHIP, itself an extension of the current Privacy Advisory Committee that serves NRS and NSS.
To deliver a Privacy Advisory Committee we will work across the public sector, in particular with the Information Commissioner’s Office, to develop more detailed proposals for the operation and management of Committee. There is no intention to replace or undermine the role of The Information Commissioner’s Office or any other regulatory body.
Ideas on how the Privacy Advisory and Ethics Committee could best be delivered are currently being developed. If you would like to feed in, please contact Victoria Kinnear-Lachhab at