Supplementary written evidence submitted by Sue Daley,
Head of Programme Big Data, Cloud and Mobile, techUK (BIG0086)
During my session, on 27 October, there were a few questions that I would have liked to provide input on but was unable to do so at the time. I have therefore develop some additional input that I would like to share with the Committee on the types of data involved in Big Data, data sharing and the importance of university and industry collaboration. I hope that the Committee is able to take into account the points below and that they are useful to the Committee as it comes to the end of its oral hearings.
Different types of data involved in Big Data
While personal identifiable information can be involved in Big Data, it is important to remember that not all Big Data will be personal data. Big Data will also involve different types of data. These can include technical information such as traffic and meta data which is information related to the sending of a communication such as a text message or email. Such meta data may include the time and location a message was sent but will not include the content of the communication.
Anonymised data may also be involved in big data processing. The use of anonymisation tools and technologies means organisations can remove personal identifiers from data. As a result data can be used for big data analytical processing without the ability to identify an individual. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) highlighted the important role of anonymisation in its report “Big Data and Data Protection” published in July 2014. It states that anonymisation:
“…enables organisations to give an assurance to the people whose data was collected that they are not using data that identifies them for big data analytics. In a world of multiple data sources effective anonymisation can be challenging and organisations must carry out a robust risk assessment.”
As the amount of data being created, processed and shared continues to grow exponentially, the technology industry recognise how important it is that people understand who has access to their data and how it is used. As highlighted in our written submission to the Committee having a workable data protection legal framework is key to ensuring public trust and confidence that Big Data is being handled in an appropriate way. The UK’s digital future will only be fully realised if consumers feel confident and empowered to share their data. Ensuring personal information is handled in an appropriate and transparent way is key to maintaining consumer privacy and trust. We see the new European data protection regulation currently being finalised as having the potential to underpin public trust in issues relating to data ownership and data sharing.
techUK’s 2015 manifesto for growth and jobs “Securing our digital future” highlighted the importance of addressing the immediate digital skills shortages the UK faces as well as the need to build the tech talent pipeline for tomorrow. While concerted effort is required at every level of the education system and within industry to meet the UK’s current and future digital skills challenge, we must also recognise the role and importance of encouraging greater university and industry collaboration.