Concerns raised over new ethics regime for UK public sector data processing

TechCrunch | 1/10/2018 | Natasha Lomas
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Concerns have been raised about a set of late stage government amendments inserted into the UK’s draft data protection bill. The clauses deal with the processing of public sector data.

Health data privacy advocacy group MedConfidential believes ministers are trying to sneak in a data protection law carveout, in order to hand politicians the power to judge the ethics of — for example — applying AI to taxpayer funded medical data-sets.

Data - Protection - Bill - Rules - EU

Thus far, the Data Protection Bill 2017, which is intended to align domestic rules with the incoming EU General Data Protection Regulation — and generally gives consumers more control over how their data is used — has attracted limited controversy. Although some privacy groups argue the government is not going far enough on data redress powers.

But if complex and impactful ethical judgments about how to process sensitive public sector data are to be nakedly conjoined to political interests that would indeed be a major cause for alarm.

MedConfidential - View - Government - Haste - Debate

MedConfidential’s view is that the government is seeking to legislate in haste, eschewing a proper public debate about the appropriate shape that data processing and AI activity should take in the public sector — at a time when rising use of automation and machine learning technologies in the commercial sphere is highlighting myriad ethical issues and challenges flowing from algorithmic decision-making.

“Ministers say they want a world leading data protection regime — they just don’t want to be bound by any of the protections they claim to offer citizens,” argues MedConfidential’s Sam Smith. “The next time someone in government loses your sensitive data, it will be a politician who gets to decide if the rules were even broken.”

Smith - Voice - UK - Data - Protection

Nor is Smith’s the only disquieted voice here. The UK’s data protection commissioner has its own set of concerns about the scope and intent of ministers’ late stage proposals...
(Excerpt) Read more at: TechCrunch
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