Under the Research framework in the Digital Economy Act 2017, before data can be shared for research purposes, it must be processed by an accredited processor so that the data is ‘de-identified’.
When the data has been de-identified it can be made available to an accredited researcher in a secure environment, and the processor will ensure that any data (or any analysis based on the data) retained by the researcher, or are published, are ‘disclosure controlled’ to minimise the risk of data subjects being re-identified or other misuses of the data.
As the statutory accrediting body, the UK Statistics Authority has established a Research Accreditation Panel to oversee the independent accreditation of processors, researchers and research projects.
The overall accreditation approach for potential data processors, as well as those for researchers and research projects, is set out in the statutory Research Code of Practice and Accreditation Criteria. This sets out that a processor must:
i. Meet appropriate cross-government standards for the secure holding of sensitive data (personal information);
ii. Make use of appropriate technical infrastructure;
iii. Agree to publish and maintain appropriate data policies;
iv. Have appropriate skills and experience; and
v. The processor must agree to its inclusion on a public register
Apply for Digital Economy Act Processor Accreditation
The UK Statistics Authority has developed an accreditation process which assesses potential processors against the security controls required for the security standard of ISO 27001. Potential data processors will need to complete evidence-based compliance assessments to ensure they can demonstrate sufficient security and technical controls, their staff have the appropriate skills and experience to be accredited as a data processor under the Digital Economy Act, and they are willing to be included on a public register. These assessments are reviewed by the relevant UK Statistics Authority teams who will also undertake a site visit. For further information or to apply to become an accredited processor, please email Research.Accreditation@statistics.gov.uk.