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Government clarifies data reform plan for public services


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The UK government has signalled it will go through with a key proposal for changing data regulations around public services, while taking a more cautious stance on others.

It has outlined its plans aimed at reducing friction in some public service processes in its newly published update on the Data Reform Bill following its public consultation.

In a statement to Parliament, Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure Julia Lopez MP said: “Our reforms will directly benefit the public - we will make it easier for public bodies to share data, making public healthcare, law enforcement and government services more effective.”

The document says the government plans to go ahead with a key proposal to extend the powers of the Digital Economy Act to facilitate the sharing of personal data between public and private sector bodies to improve public services. But this will not be permissible for any other reason, reflecting a mixed response from to the proposal.

It will also press on with clarifying the lawful grounds for non-public bodies to process personal data when delivering public tasks. This is aimed at resolving a lack of clarity in the current law which is said to create some uncertainty.


There are other areas in which it is pressing on with its work but with less clear commitments to regulatory change. These include exploring whether it is possible to align key terms in different data processing frameworks to support public safety and national security, considering whether law enforcement sectors can produce their own codes of conduct for data sharing, and working with policing authorities on promoting high standards in the use of biometric data.

Other proposals have been dropped on the basis of the consultation feedback, including that to widen the circumstances in which non-healthcare bodies could process health data, compulsory transparency reporting on the use of algorithms, and a new definition of ‘substantial public interest’ for processing personal data.


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