Digital Economy Act

Part 5 of the UK Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA) includes important new legal powers to provide the UK Statistics Authority with better access to data, to support the production of Official and National Statistics, as well as statistical research.

As far as research use of data is concerned, Chapter 5 of Part 5 of the Digital Economy Act (DEA) facilitates the linking and sharing of de-identified public sector data to support valuable new research insights about UK society and the economy.

The DEA is key legislation in making government more administrative data available for research that is approved to be undertaken for the public good.

The UK Statistics Authority is the statutory accrediting body responsible for the accreditation of processors, researchers and their projects. The Research framework in the DEA is underpinned by the Research Code of Practice and accreditation criteria.

Research Accreditation Panel (RAP) oversees the independent accreditation of processors, researchers and research projects.

Before data can be shared for research purposes, it must be processed by an Accredited Processor, so that the data can be ‘de-identified’. When the data has been de-identified it can be made available to an Accredited Researcher in a secure environment.

At this stage, the processor must ensure that any data (or any analysis based on the data) retained by the researcher, or published, are ‘disclosure controlled’ to minimise the risk of data subjects being re-identified or other misuses of the data. Under the Act, disclosure of ‘personal information’ outside of the legal gateways is a criminal offence.

The UK Data Archive is an Accredited Processor under the DEA and is able to provide standardised access to a large range of de-identified government data assets, provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). See how our UK Data Service Secure Lab works.