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UK Data Service confirmed as an accredited data processor under the Digital Economy Act

The UK Statistics Authority has accredited the UK Data Service as a processor of data under the Part 5, Chapter 5 of the Digital Economy Act 2017.

Chapter 5 of Part 5 of the Digital Economy Act facilitates the linking and sharing of de-identified data by public authorities for accredited research purposes to support and enable valuable new research to gain insights about UK society and the economy. The UK Statistics Authority is the statutory accrediting body responsible for the accreditation of processors, researchers and their projects. The UK Data Service’s  accreditation will initially last for five years.

Director of the UK Data Service and UK Data Archive, Professor Matthew Woollard, was part of the Cabinet Office’s Quality Assurance Group which advised on the Research framework in the Digital Economy Act.

He said: “This is an important achievement and I’m delighted that we are on the list of accredited organisations. Chapter 5 of Part 5 of the Digital Economy Act is key legislation in making government administrative data available and it means we can do work that very few organisations are accredited to carry out, as the bar has been set reasonably high.”

In essence, this accreditation will allow the UK Data Service to provide research access to personal data, using the legal gateway of the DEA. It provides standardised access to secure government data via a single, simplified process and should take away some of the administrative burden. The aim is to speed up the approval process for researchers and to speed up the approval of data for research purposes. A very big thank you to everyone who contributed to the process.”

Before data can be shared for research purposes, it must be processed by an accredited processor so that the data is ‘de-identified’. When the data has been de-identified it can be made available to an accredited researcher in a secure environment. The processor will ensure that any data (or any analysis based on the data) retained by the researcher, or are published, are ‘disclosure controlled’ to minimise the risk of data subjects being re-identified or other misuses of the data.

The Research framework in the Digital Economy Act is underpinned by the Research Code of Practice and accreditation criteria, which was approved by the UK Parliament in July 2018. As the statutory accrediting body, the UK Statistics Authority has established a Research Accreditation Panel to oversee the independent accreditation of processors, researchers and research projects.