On the 25th February, the Centre for Applied Data Ethics will celebrate its first birthday. It has been a successful year, and the Centre team have been busy creating guidance and providing training and support to the wider research and statistical community. Over the past 12 months, the Centre has:

  • Published 5 pieces of guidance on topics ranging from public good to machine learning
  • Provided ethics feedback on 258 projects via the self-assessment tool
  • Presented at 21 conferences and engagement events
  • Provided training relating to the ethics of geospatial data and machine learning, both nationally and internationally.

Since our last update at the beginning of December, the Centre team have been busy working on a number of activities, summarised below.

Centre Advisory Committee

In January, we held our fourth meeting of the independent UK Statistics Authority’s Centre for Applied Data Ethics independent Advisory Committee (CADEAC). Here we discussed the Centre’s progress over the last year, and our plans for the next twelve months, as well as a summary of current activities including work on evaluating the impact of our current guidance pieces. We are also working on a new piece of guidance which relates to the ethical considerations related to the inclusivity of data for research and statistics. This is currently in draft but will be published soon!

The minutes for this meeting will be available to view on the UK Statistics Authority website in due course, and the next meeting will be held in May.

Data Ethics Services

With regard to the development of the ethics support services, the iteration of the ethics self-assessment tool is reaching the final stages. In February, the Centre will be conducting virtual user engagement activities to gather the views of users on the updates. This will be held at 1pm on the 9th February. Changes to the tool will be presented, and attendees will have a chance to test the tool and provide feedback via a survey. If you would like more information, or to attend the event, please contact the team at data.ethics@statistics.gov.uk.

The National Statisticians Data Ethics Advisory Committee (NSDEC) met at the beginning of February to consider several projects. This included an approach for assigning ethnicity using admin-based population estimates to support work for the 2023 recommendation, and the establishment of a Disability Experience Survey that has been commissioned by the Cabinet Office.

International work

Following a survey of data ethics challenges, priorities and approaches within other National Statistical Institutes, the Centre hosted the second of a series of “deep-dive” meetings with representatives from 6 NSI’s, on the topic of data ethics policies. Discussion focused on what a good data ethics policy should look like, and how data ethics policies can best be disseminated in order to ensure that researchers and analysts are able to apply these policies to their work. In response to these discussions, the Centre has created a high-level checklist on “What should a good Data Ethics Policy look like?”.

Out and About

We continue to present our data ethics work to a range of audiences via conferences, webinars and engagement activities, and a full list of presentations can be found on the Publications and Presentations section of our website. Recent highlights include:

If you would like to work with us, or want to suggest an ethics guidance topic that you feel we should focus on, please do get in touch!