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GDS updates Data Ethics Framework

22/09/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has published an updated version of the Data Ethics Framework for the public sector – including a set of overarching principles that can be scored from one to five.

Ethics book

It includes a handful of significant changes from the previous version of 2018, highlighted by IT industry association techUK.

The framework is aimed at helping public servants understand the ethical considerations around the use of data and to use it in responsible innovation.

One of the changes is the introduction of the principles on transparency, accountability and fairness. In each case the framework, in each case with an explanation and an indication on how to score them in regard to specific projects.

GDS says that any score of three or less could indicate the needs for additional checks and potential changes in a project. It asks users to provide a reason for the score and consult with a team leader, organisational ethics board or data ethics lead to advise on the next steps.

Another addition is an editable template to help users capture their answers and share learnings. This can be kept with project records and published alongside other key documents.

The framework also has a new glossary of key terms.

It outlines specific steps for projects including defining and understanding public benefit and user needs, involving diverse expertise, ensuring compliance with the law, reviewing the quality and limitations of data, and evaluating the wide policy implications.

Image by Pamela Carls, CC BY 2.0

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