This report analyses projects where data has been shared between government departments, and with commercial organisations, identifying recurring barriers, and the steps that were taken to address them. It focuses on citizen trust, which the report argues needs to be addressed if we are to maximise the value of data held. It includes a new framework to drive forward trustworthy data sharing in the public interest.
- Common barriers to data sharing tend to fit into three broad categories: legal; technical; and cultural. These include inconsistent security requirements, legal confusion and risk aversion.
- These barriers are reinforced by low public awareness of data sharing and an absence of a developed understanding of public acceptability, both of which give rise to an environment of ‘tenuous trust’. This uncertainty hinders the progression of projects that could be of huge societal benefit.
- Trust is also undermined by the inconsistent interpretation and application of legal mechanisms for data sharing, as well as the adoption of different security and technical standards. This creates a complex and confusing environment which hinders transparency.
- Data held by the public sector could be used to support areas of innovation that may bring significant public benefits. While the UK has already demonstrated leadership in the area of data sharing, particularly with regard to open data and the publication of public data sets, more work is needed to address public trust specifically. Addressing legal and technical barriers to data sharing has been the focus of much recent work.