Those of you who follow data protection matters closely will know that the ICO’s new Data Sharing Code of Practice is waiting to be laid before Parliament for approval. The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, spoke to the Public Services Committee on 13th January 2021. Following on from this, the Information Commissioner wrote to Lady Armstrong and this letter was published yesterday. It contains some general observations as to the limitations of the Code as a statutory code but the most interesting aspect of the letter is what the Information Commissioner says about the ICO’s role in reducing barriers to data sharing which I quote below:

‘However, what was clear from our discussion at the hearing, and from thewitnesses that followed, was a recognition that the task of reducing barriers to data sharing is too big to be undertaken by one body in isolation. It needs a cooperative and coordinated effort from stakeholders across society. We see this as a partnership between government, parliament, the regulator, and those sectors at the frontline of data sharing.

The ICO cannot lead the work. This is due to our status as regulator; there is a need for us to strike a balance between our role of giving advice and support to organisations undertaking data sharing, and our need to take appropriate action to protect the data rights of citizens if there is a breach of the law.’