To celebrate Global Ethics Day, Professor David Hand speaks about the work of the UK Statistics Authority Centre for Applied Data Ethics and their achievements since being established.
Global Ethics Day is an annual event aimed at “empowering ethics through the actions of individuals and organisations”. This day provides an opportune moment to reflect on the work of the Centre for Applied Data Ethics (CADE) within the UK Statistics Authority. I chair the Centre for Applied Data Ethics Advisory Committee (CADEAC) where I am proud of the impact that CADE has had in its relatively short time in existence.
CADE was established in February 2021 with the remit of providing support and guidance to the research and statistical community. The Authority has history here, with both a data ethics team and the National Statisticians Data Ethics Advisory Committee (NSDEC), which was established in 2015. Since February 2021, CADE has brought applied data ethics support for researchers from across the analytical community together into one place. CADE has considered and advised on over 500 projects across the ONS, wider government and academia. This has been achieved through the collaborative creation of an ethics self-assessment tool that offers researchers an easy-to-use framework to review the ethical considerations of their projects throughout the research cycle. This framework then allows the CADE team to provide advice and guidance on these considerations, at pace.
CADE also play an important role in providing the secretariat to the NSDEC, which meet four times a year to provide an additional level of independent, specialist advice and guidance on the ethical considerations of research. Over its time, NSDEC has advised on and endorsed ethical practice across dozens of high-level, high-impact research projects and programmes. You can visit the NSDEC webpages to read more about its work, and about how the members advise the National Statistician in ensuring that the access, use and sharing of public data, for research and statistical purposes, is ethical and serves the public good.
Further afield, CADE has been busy developing its international reputation as a thought-leader in the data ethics space by engaging with various National Statistical Offices and international organisations. To celebrate Global Ethics Day, Simon Whitworth, Head of Data Ethics and Research Accreditation at the Authority, has written a blog on this recent international work, which I would like to encourage you to read.
As well as guiding and supporting the international analytical community, CADE has produced eight pieces of specific data ethics guidance. These guidance pieces cover a range of topics, driven by the needs and requests of the research community and in support of the Authority strategy to be Radical, Ambitious, Inclusive and Sustainable in the production of statistics for the public good. The latest piece of guidance, released today, was produced in collaboration with colleagues in the ONS Data-Science Campus and is on the topic of Synthetic Data.
Finally, I want to thank all the researchers, analysts, academics and statisticians who have engaged with CADE in developing, supporting, promoting and (importantly) using our applied data ethics services. We look forward to growing our reach, spreading our impact, and developing the insight and guidance that we offer as a centre, in support of the UKSA and the wider community.