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The Statistics Act and Research Access to Data Paul J Jackson Legal Services ONS.

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Presentation on theme: "The Statistics Act and Research Access to Data Paul J Jackson Legal Services ONS."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Statistics Act and Research Access to Data Paul J Jackson Legal Services ONS

2 Whats new in the SRSA? A new legal framework incorporating : New governance New accountability / reporting arrangements New Duties and Functions * New Code New Assessment regime and new kitemark New internal and external relationships

3 * Duties and Functions Current situation – research data access is a negotiated policy provision in the unwritten constitutions of the RG, Chancellor, and Director of ONS. From 1 st April – Research data access is an express statutory function of the Statistics Board (incorporating ONS)

4 Therefore data access is subject to : A new legal framework New governance New accountability / reporting arrangements New Code New internal and external relationships

5 What has the ONS ever done for us? Anonymised data in the UKDA from every social survey source Developed the Special Licence alternative Longitudinal Study Census micro-data abstracts Detailed micro-data to projects in academia Laboratory access to identified data

6 What has the ONS ever done for us? Case in point – Special License APS : –380,000 records x 600 variables including ethnicity. Persons in households, cross-sectional, longitudinal over waves, with Local Area geography. And available to download, for free, after completing a form countersigned by ONS. –Each applications for access are approved, and there are over 200 separate users of confidential ONS micro-data.

7 What has the ONS ever done for us? Changed expectations Hence s23 and s39 of the Statistics Act –Formal and permanent recognition by the State that one of the roles of an NSI is to provide research access to data in a way that safeguards confidentiality. –And that any source of data, in any detail, is in scope. –The question is no longer whether, but how. Not a bad legacy.

8 Section 23

9 Section 39

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13 Making policy within the new law The SRSA invites policy for 3 data statuses : 1.Data suitable for publication, resilient against relevant intruder scenarios. 2.Data which, if disclosed, would not breach the confidentiality law in the SRSA. 3.Data that can identify an individual directly, indirectly, or taking into account published sources of information.

14 Access policy within the new law Types 2 and 3 are most relevant : –End User Licence datasets must be type 2, i.e. data which ought not to be published, but which can be disclosed to users without relying on an exemption in s39. –All other access is to data of type 3, i.e. data which is protected by s39 and which can be accessed only through a gateway.

15 The Approved Researcher gateway Approved researchers: Are fit and proper individuals. Are bound by the same non-disclosure rule as SB staff May work in a public authority/university (but must not let their employer see unsafe data, only safe results). Are not employed by or contracted to us. Can receive any data from any source. Can use the data for the approved research only. Have this status for the disclosure in question only. Must sign a declaration.

16 Research Data Access Strategy RDAS approved in principle by the ONS Statistical Policy Committee. Now under scrutiny by Data Stewardship Group. Will be presented to the Board in due course. Aims to consolidate ONS gains, then extend the new function under Board leadership.

17 Research Data Access Strategy Features : 1.Ongoing commitment to UKDA and anonymised social survey datasets free to download by Athens licence holders. 2.Conversion of Special Licence into the AR regime. 3.Singular high-end projects still to be supported off-site. 4.…but the Secure Data Service to be used in preference when available. 5.VML as the preferred on-site facility for the most complex research. 6.Remote access desirable, but no firm plans for an ONS-developed solution.

18 Research Data Access Strategy Features, continued : 6.MRP to be the point of authorisation. 7.Better web presence, and AR application forms on- line. 8.Simplified access gateways to result in more transparent and efficient procedures. 9.Central point of contact to initiate access requests. 10.Information and training on avoiding a criminal record !

19 Research Data Access Strategy Fundamental Principles for statistics still apply : –Access to confidential data is an exception to the non- disclosure rule that must be justified according to the balance of the public good of the research against the risk of a breach of respondent privacy.


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