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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/introduction-to-the-centre-for-data-ethics-and-innovation-cdei/introduction-to-centre-for-data-ethics-and-innovation-cdei
Introduction to the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation
The adoption of data-driven technology affects every aspect of our society, and its use is creating opportunities as well as new ethical challenges. The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) is an independent advisory body set up and tasked by the UK Government and led by a board of experts, to investigate and advise on how we maximise the benefits of these technologies.
The CDEI has a unique mandate to make recommendations to government on these issues, drawing on expertise and perspectives from across society, as well as advice for regulators, and industry, that support responsible innovation and help build a strong, trustworthy system of governance. The government is then bound to consider and respond publicly to these recommendations.
We will convene and build on the UK’s vast expertise in governing complex technology, innovation-friendly regulation and its global strength in research and academia. Our objective is to identify how we can enjoy to the full the potential benefits of data-driven technology within the ethical and social constraints of a liberal democratic society.
What the CDEI will do
The CDEI will analyse and anticipate the opportunities and risks posed by data-driven technology and will put forward practical and evidence-based advice to address them. We will do this by taking a broad view of the landscape while also completing policy reviews of particular topics.
Our functions are:
Analyse and Anticipate will convene communities and expertise to provide an overview and insight of opportunities and risks, and review existing regulatory and governance frameworks to identify gaps. It will also carry out thematic projects to enable CDEI to explore live or urgent issues, drawing together lessons from existing work and setting out how they should be taken forward.
Reviews will identify and articulate best practice for the responsible use of data driven technology within specific sectors or for specific applications of technology. They will consider any gaps in governance and make recommendations to the government, as well as advice to regulators, creators and users of data-driven technology as to how those gaps should be addressed
These functions will be underpinned by public engagement and cross-sector collaboration, supported by a strategy team to amplify the impact of the CDEI’s work.
The UK Government has committed to putting the CDEI on an independent statutory footing. We will evolve over the coming months and years and demonstrate the role the CDEI can and should play in helping society address the opportunities and ethical challenges posed by digital technologies.
The CDEI will produce best practice and guidance, as well as publishing reports with clear recommendations to government. The government is then bound to consider and respond publicly to those recommendations.
Our work will address the following types of question:
Where is the use of technology out of line with public values or the norms defined by our laws and regulations?
Where does law and regulation need to be strengthened? Where do regulators need new skills and capacities to address issues?
How can ethics be built into innovation and innovation be directed towards supporting ethics?
Where are we failing to make use of the benefits of data-driven technology because we have failed to resolve ethical tensions?
How can we implement ethical frameworks for data sharing which respect the different rights that individuals, organisations and government agencies have to control and use such data, and enable each to effectively exercise those rights?
How can the UK influence the development of these technologies globally to maintain our leadership position in the world, and ensure that data-driven technology is a global force for good?
2019/ 20 Work Programme
The Work Programme for 19/20 sets out the CDEI’s focus in its first year of operation.
This review will focus on online targeting, investigating how data is used to shape people’s online environments via the personalisation and targeting of messages, content and services online. By “online targeting” we mean the identification of individuals or groups, using data about them (or about others who are like them) and their online behaviours and preferences, and the corresponding delivery of personalised messages, content or services to them online. Instances of online targeting can include online advertising, search or news feed optimisation, or personalised recommendations.
Through the review, we plan to explore where, how and why online targeting approaches are used, identify current and potential benefits and harms - to individuals and society - associated with them, and consider alternative governance frameworks that encourage responsible innovation and minimise risks of harm. We will conduct public dialogue exercises to test levels of public understanding and acceptance of uses of online targeting approaches.
We will also look in more detail at a number of different applications of online targeting in a variety of areas. We will seek to explore how these approaches can be applied positively and negatively in these areas, how organisations fulfil their obligations to use data responsibly, and how any gaps in existing governance frameworks might be best addressed.
We will work closely with other organisations who are undertaking similar work in this area, including DCMS, through its work addressing online harms and its review of online advertising regulation, the ICO and other sectoral regulators, public and private sector organisations carrying out online targeting activities, and academic and civil society organisations.
An interim report will be published by Summer 2019, and a final report, including recommendations to government, by December 2019.
Using a literature review, applied technical research and public engagement workshops, we plan to investigate the issue of algorithmic bias in various sectors, which may include: financial services, local government, recruitment, and crime and justice. These sectors are likely to be chosen as 1) there is potential for the use of algorithmic decision making in these sectors, 2) decisions made in these sectors have significant impact on people’s lives, 3) there is a risk of algorithms generating or worsening biased decision making and 4) the corresponding potential for algorithms to address any existing bias in decision-making in these sectors.
Our approach is likely to focus on bias against characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010, but we may extend the scope of the Review to understand bias against other characteristics such as digital literacy.
We plan to engage with stakeholders across the chosen sectors to build an understanding of current practice. We aim to support the development of technical means for identifying algorithmic bias that have scope to be applied across the chosen sectors, and produce recommendations to government about how any potential harms can be identified and minimised.
An interim report will be published by Summer 2019, and a final report, including recommendations to government, by March 2020.
Analyse and Anticipate
Identification of Highest Priority Opportunities and Risks
We will identify and analyse the highest priority opportunities and risks associated with data-driven technology within the Centre’s remit. This will be done by working in collaboration with academics, civil society, government and industry, and the Centre will host a programme of workshops and seminars to bring these key stakeholders together. Through these workshops and other engagements we will collate comparative judgments from experts on the application of data-driven technology in the UK. Beyond this, we will look to identify those trends and applications that are most likely to inspire, or undermine, public trust in data-driven technology.
This piece of work is intended to be a continuously-evolving, community-created view. It will not be exhaustive, but it will be sufficiently informative to identify priorities and guide the work of the Centre. This analysis of opportunities and risks will be responsive to changing circumstances throughout the year.
The first outputs from this area of work will be published in Autumn 2019, after which we will continue to expand and refine this function.
Responsive Thematic Projects
We will retain some capacity to carry out short, thematic projects, on various topics identified as priorities. These projects are intended to respond to live issues, including public concerns, and will either seek to bring clarity to an issue or will highlight or assess potential solutions to a known challenge.
Preparation for State of The Nation Report 2020
This report will be an overarching assessment of data use and the governance landscape, as set out in the Government’s response to its consultation on the Centre. From December 2019, we will (i) identify an appropriate scope for the ‘State of the Nation’ Report for 2020, and (ii) begin to draw together the content of the report.
Strategy and Corporate
Strategy, Governance, Communications and Business Support
We have established various corporate functions, including strategy, governance, public engagement, and business support, to underpin our wider work. Our corporate functions will include budgeting, hiring and team management, providing a secretariat to the Board, developing our strategy and monitoring progress, managing the Centre’s relationship with government, ensuring effective collaboration and stakeholder management, and identifying, assessing and advising on the future form of the Centre including consideration of statutory functions and powers.
How the CDEI will work
Across the UK there is a wealth of expertise and experience, from world class researchers to world changing startups, that CDEI will need to draw on to succeed.
The CDEI will take advantage of its unique position as an independent but close adviser to government. We will bring people together from civil society, industry, the public sector and academia, to share knowledge and collaborate.
How we work with stakeholders will include, but is not limited to:
Convening experts: from workshops and seminars, to one off events and online engagement
Policy review contact groups: where stakeholders are working closely with usI to delivery specific reviews they may be represented on review contact groups to feed into the review’s development
Co-production and commissioning: we will look for opportunities to collaborate with delivery partners, in some cases commissioning or seconding external expertise
Calls for evidence: we will invite stakeholders to take part in formal calls for evidence as well as encourage stakeholders to feed in their expertise on an ongoing basis, including through informal contact groups
Partnerships: for some stakeholders, more formal partnership arrangements will be appropriate, with the terms of the partnership set out and published in an agreed Memorandum of Understanding
Outreach to businesses and innovators: we will reach out to businesses - in particular startups and SMEs - to include their perspectives in our work.
Giving the public a greater say in how data-driven technology and its governance develop is essential to public trust. Successful public engagement will therefore be crucial to the CDEI’s success. Our recommendations and advice must be grounded in an understanding of people’s attitudes and expectations. The governance of data-driven technology must be designed to give individuals and communities affected by its use, the appropriate control over how is it deployed.
The CDEI is committed to high standards of public engagement and aims to work with others to test innovative approaches. Our public engagement activity will enable CDEI to:
Identify issues that are likely to be contentious and problematic and explore ways of approaching them
Develop and test possible solutions to identified problems with a cross-section of people
Work with marginalised groups and those most affected by technological developments
Use deliberative engagement approaches to structure informed conversations with cross-sections of the public
Public engagement techniques often involve relatively small numbers of people. We are therefore keen to work with others and explore the ways in which digital technology may enable it to scale-up this activity.
The CDEI was established to provide the government with access to independent, impartial and expert advice. The CDEI has an independent Chair and Board, and its independence extends to how it will work, its use of resources and ultimately its recommendations to government.
The CDEI will work openly and transparently with stakeholders, government and the public. This will include publishing regular updates on our activities as well as publishing an annual work programme and annual report. All reports and recommendations, made throughout the year, will be made public at the point at which they are delivered to government.
The CDEI will work globally, to ensure it has access to the expertise and innovation from across the world. It will build an international profile to influence and lead international debate and shape discussion as solutions may need international collaboration to be most effective.
Working across government
The CDEI’s role is cross-sector and it will therefore work across government and the public sector, from central government departments to the police, local authorities to regulators. Its work and recommendations will be aimed at those bodies that have the levers to effect change.
Regulators will be both sources of insight and important partners for CDEI to provide tailored advice on areas where data driven technology and governance issues intersect with their work.
The CDEI will work with regulators to (i) understand and help develop the clear policies, powers and technical solutions they need to meet their regulatory duties in relation to data-driven technology (ii) work with them to ensure public views on data-driven technology within their sectors are accounted for in their work, and (iii) identify regulatory gaps. The CDEI expects to work closely and form partnerships with relevant regulators as its work progresses.
The CDEI is a UK-wide body and its activities are nationally relevant. The ethical issues play out in much the same way across the nations of the UK, and it is therefore important for the CDEI to work closely with the devolved administrations, engaging and building effective relationships.
Funding and governance
The CDEI is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with £2.5 million in 2019/20 and £5 million in 2020/21. During its pre-statutory phase, the CDEI is not a separate legal entity and operates as an Expert Committee, working independently of government. Go to our website for more full governance arrangements, set out in a Framework Agreement between CDEI and DCMS, as well CDEI’s Terms of Reference.
Roger Taylor (Chair)
Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft
Professor Luciano Floridi
Dame Patricia Hodgson
Baroness Kate Rock
Dame Glenys Stacey
Dr Adrian Weller
Lord Robert Winston