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New Data Regime to Position UK as Science and Tech Superpower

In a statement released Thursday (Sept. 9), the U.K. government said it has launched new reforms to boost innovation, promote economic growth and strengthen public data protection.

As part of the initiative, there will be a restructuring of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) with a new governance model that includes an independent board and chief executive, similar to the governance structures of other regulators such as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Ofcom.

The government launched a comprehensive consultation Friday (Sept. 10) on the reform, which is the first step in carrying out the second phase of the National Data Strategy which outlines the U.K.’s goal to use data as a “strategic asset” to further strengthen its position as a science and technology superpower.

One of the U.K.’s 10 Tech Priorities is “Unlocking the power of data,” also making the reform central to the government’s agenda to “secure a pro-growth and trusted data regime.”

Read more: UK Targets Global Partnerships For Data Sharing

Some of the reforms outlined in the consultation include securing the U.K.’s status as a global hub for the free and responsible flow of personal data, simplifying data use by researchers and developers of artificial intelligence (AI), reinforcing the responsibility of businesses to keep personal information safe, and ensuring that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) remains a world-leading regulator.

The new data regime is part of measures being taken by the U.K. government after leaving the European Union in January 2020 and is aimed at “unleashing data’s power across the economy and society, for the benefit of British citizens and British businesses,” according to the statement.  

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According to the statement, planned reforms recently announced by Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden will “drive greater innovation and growth in the UK’s data sector” following changes to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and will “better protect the public from major data threats.”

Taking an inclusive approach with the launch of the initiative, the government has asked the public to respond to questions in the consultation via post or email between now and Nov. 19.

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