AllButNames has written a summary of what’s happening and we’ve published drafts of our own broad and detailed consultation responses (comments welcome) but in overview there are three interacting problems with the proposals, which would:
- Allow commercial access to unprotected raw data, given to ONS in trust;
- For speculative and/or commercial purposes;
- Keep it a secret
Other parts of the proposals relate to maintaining a list of users, or are about academics doing publishable research in the public interest, i.e. the type of work the ONS would do itself. These are not the concern. Concerns are rather about commercial entities, some of the exact same organisations that caused such public outcry at the sale of NHS patients’ information last year, getting access to everything the ONS has.
We’ve made some constructive suggestions of what should happen – drop Proposal 8 and keep things honest, consensual and transparent – and have provided some actions for you to take, either as an individual or as an organisation or business.