UK government comes under scrutiny by MP's for big data efforts

The Science and Technology Commons Select Committee is launching an inquiry into whether the UK government is doing enough to ensure that entrepreneurs in the country can benefit from the "data revolution" without a compromise on security and privacy.

"Growth in computing power continues at a remarkable pace, bringing enormous economic and social opportunities as new public and private services are developed using 'big data' sets," claimed Nicola Blackwood MP, chair of the Science and Technology Committee.

"However, there are also growing concerns about the collection, use and sale of personal data," she added.

The government initially highlighted the opportunities present by big data in its 2013 Information Economy Strategy, which drew attention to the importance of a "highly skilled digital workforce" and "digital infrastructure."

It also referred to a framework for cyber security and privacy necessary to support growth, innovation and excellence, as well as the need for the UK "to take a lead in global efforts to deal with the volume, velocity and variety of data created each day."

"Many people enjoy the benefits of big data, like quicker, more personalised digital services, but are often concerned about the way their data is used to deliver this," claimed Blackwood.

Maximising Opportunities Without Compromising On Privacy  

Written submissions on the following are to be submitted by Thursday 3 September 2015:

  • The opportunities and risks for big data
  • Whether the government has set out an appropriate and up-to-date path for the continued evolution of big data and the technologies required to support it
  • Where gaps persist in the skills needed to take advantage of the opportunities, and be protected from the risks, and how these gaps can be filled
  • How public understanding of the opportunities, implications and the skills required can be improved and 'informed consent' secured
  • Any further support needed from government to facilitate research and development on big data, including to secure the required capital investment in big data research facilities and for their ongoing operation.

"This inquiry will be weighing up how we can open up the opportunities in big data for entrepreneurs, while ensuring that consumers feel their private data is protected," claimed Blackwood.

"Questions remain about how companies obtain consent for the use of personal data and whether the governance of our new information economy is keeping pace with the technology," she added.

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