ESRC speaks out on European data protection proposals

Article dated: 22-Feb-13

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has published a statement on the draft European Commission Regulation on Data Protection and the draft report on this regulation by MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht.

The statement, which includes contributions from the Director of the UK Data Archive and UK Data Service, is strongly opposed to a number of proposals made in these documents, in particular the removal of exemptions for scientific, statistical or historical research.

The ESRC firmly believes that citizens' rights are more than adequately protected by a battery of processes already in place, including consent, anonymisation, secure access facilities, advanced information security techniques and disclosure control. The ESRC also strongly believes that the necessity to have explicit consent of the all data subjects in all circumstances is disproportionate and should not form part of the proposed regulation.

Matthew Woollard, Director of the UK Data Archive and UK Data Service, says that the proposals presented are unbalanced and do not properly resolve the tensions between the legitimate concerns for privacy and the need for research based on personal information. He notes that there has been no breach of personal information from the UK's social and economic research data infrastructure in over 40 years, and increased security measures have been continuously put in place to manage increased risks.

The full contents of the statement are available for review on the ESRC website.