WMODF responded to the consultation by the Government on the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.
This document is published on this site.
The Government responded recently and the full document is available below.
Here is a copy of the Introduction:
Last year, the government announced its commitment to establish the Centre for Data
Ethics and Innovation – a major new advisory body that will investigate and advise on how
we govern the use of data and data-enabled technologies, including Artificial Intelligence
In June, we launched a consultation on how the Centre will operate and its priority areas of
work. The consultation ran for a 12 week period and involved a series of roundtable
discussions across the UK. We received over 100 responses from a wide range of
organisations and individuals (see Annex C).
This document sets out the main points to emerge from the responses and the position the
government has adopted after reviewing these comments, including its rationale for taking
forward or amending the original proposals.
Why the Centre has been established
Data and data-enabled technologies are playing an increasingly important role in our world
– from the way we find information online to the way we diagnose illness – transforming
many different areas of our lives in profound and positive ways. At the same time, these
new technologies and applications pose complex ethical and economic questions that need
to be addressed to ensure they work for the benefit of people and society.
Our existing legislation and regulatory regimes already provide the essential foundations for
addressing the challenges posed by data and data-enabled technologies. However, if we are
to harness the full potential of these technologies, it is vital that government creates the
ongoing capability to identify and address any areas where clearer guidelines or regulation
are needed, now and in the future. That is why the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation
has been established. The Centre is a core component of the government’s Digital Charter,
which seeks to agree norms and rules for the online world. The Centre will enable the UK to
lead the global debate about how data and AI can and should be used.
The consultation proposals
The government’s consultation document set out detailed proposals on the Centre’s
advisory remit and activities. It is important to note that these relate to the Centre’s initial
phase of activity. It remains the government’s intention to establish the Centre on a
statutory footing at the earliest appropriate opportunity, subject to securing the necessary
approvals and legislative space, and with this objective in mind we will continue to review
the effectiveness of the functions proposed, which may need to be changed or
supplemented as future needs are identified.
The government’s consultation document proposed three core functions for the Centre:
● analysing and anticipating gaps in governance and regulation that could impede the
ethical and innovative deployment of data and AI;
● agreeing and articulating best practice, codes of conduct and standards that can
guide ethical and innovative uses of AI; and
● advising government on the specific policy or regulatory actions required to address
or prevent barriers to innovative and ethical uses of data.
In addition to the above, the consultation document proposed a set of principles and
guidelines for how the Centre should operate within the wider stakeholder and institutional
landscape. The proposals also included specific provisions for how the Centre should report
its findings and make recommendations to government.
The Centre will be sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and
the chair will be accountable to the Secretary of State for the performance of the Centre.
Respondents were invited to submit their views on all aspects of the proposals, including
the Centre’s remit and objectives, its activities and outputs, and the way it will operate (see
In general, respondents were supportive of the proposals for the Centre and the principle of
establishing closer oversight of the way that data and data-driven technologies, such as AI,
are used and regulated. There was also widespread recognition of the benefits and
opportunities innovation in these technologies can bring if developed and deployed in a
There were a number of areas where respondents felt the proposals could be clarified and
strengthened, or where they had specific suggestions for how the Centre should undertake
its activities. A small number of respondents expressed concerns about the Centre’s
proposed remit and potential impact, and questioned the rationale for establishing the
creation of the Centre.
All suggestions and comments have been carefully reviewed and assessed by the
government as part of its response.
This document sets out the government response to the consultation and the terms of
reference for how the Centre will operate in its initial, pre-statutory form (see Annex A).
Taking into account the overall levels of support expressed by respondents and the detailed
research which informed the design of the Centre, we have made limited changes to the
original proposals. We have focused primarily on clarifying existing functions and
strengthening the Centre’s reporting and recommendation functions. We have also set out
where we expect the Centre to provide further clarity going forward and the mechanisms
through which it should do this. We expect much of this to be addressed in the Centre’s first
strategy document due to be published in Spring ’19.