Since our last update at the end of May, the Centre team have been working on a range of outputs. Here is a summary of some of our key activities in the last two months and what we are hoping to do next.
We have been working on a new piece of guidance focused on considering and articulating the public good in research and statistical projects. This was released on Thursday 22nd July, alongside an accompanying blog by Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation. As with all of our guidance, this has been released as an early open draft for wider comment from the user community. We would very much welcome feedback and comments on the current draft.
We have also been considering some of the very useful feedback that we have received on our current geospatial ethics guidance, ethical considerations in the use of geospatial data for research and statistics. Thanks to all of those who have provided feedback so far – we will be making further iterative updates to the guidance soon in response to this.
Second meeting of our Centre Advisory Committee
On 8th July, we held our second meeting of the UK Statistics Authority’s Centre for Applied Data Ethics independent Advisory Committee (CADEAC), which is chaired by Professor David Hand. At our most recent meeting the committee considered key aspects of the Centre’s strategic vision, including how we will evaluate our impact, our key stakeholder groups, and our first guidance pieces. The minutes of this meeting will be available online soon.
Following our international data ethics survey, we convened an initial meeting of other interested National Statistical Institutes on 15th July. This focused on sharing experiences and learnings regarding data ethics governance processes within the statistical context, including key challenges and future opportunities for learning and engagement on this issue. We will be sharing more information on our international work and plans in this area soon.
Out and about
We recently presented a seminar on data ethics as part of the Government Economic and Social Research Professions events programme that was attended by more than 100 members of the profession, as well as participating as an invited panelist at the Royal Geographical Society/ Association for Geographic Information Ethics webinar, A right to be lost: Bias, Anonymity, Privacy. We have also been accepted to present a practitioner paper covering our work at the Data for Policy 2021 conference in early September – we look forward to seeing any other attendees there!
If you are a member of the Government Social Research profession look out for our Day in the Life of the Centre feature within the July newsletter, written by our Data Ethics Research Officer Alice Toms. We have also now released the discussion note from our inaugural roundtable event in May, alongside an accompanying blog by Emma Rourke. Please do take a look at the insightful discussion, which will contribute to the Centre’s future plans and activities in the data ethics space.
Data ethics services
Since the last update the services side of the data ethics team have received 35 ethics self-assessments. These have had varying scopes of focus, whether this be different project themes or project populations. Further to this, we have also had confirmation of two exciting conferences which we will be presenting posters at. We will be showcasing our data ethics service at the Royal Statistical Society and the British Society for Population Studies conferences in September to promote our work and assistance that we provide to the research and statistical community.
What’s coming next?
As ever, we will continue building on all of these activities and outputs over the coming weeks, but will be particularly focusing on:
- We are currently developing a high-level ethics checklist on the use of third-party data and hope to release an open early draft of this later in the summer.
- We have received feedback from members of our user community and representatives of other National Statistical Institutes on our first draft of guidance related to ethical considerations in the use of machine learning in research and statistical contexts, developed as part of our involvement in the Office for National Statistics – United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Machine Learning 2021 Group . We thank those who have engaged with us so far on this topic and hope to release an open draft of this guidance later this year.
- We are finalising the next ethics guidance topics that we will focus on in the coming months – so watch this space and remember that you can suggest a guidance topic via the Centre website or by contacting the data ethics team.