Two developments in the United Kingdom demonstrate the country’s renewed commitment to a sustainable data strategy with appropriate privacy and security safeguards. First, on September 9, 2020, the U.K. government published a National Data Strategy, which sets out a draft framework for how the U.K. would approach, and invest in, data in order to boost growth across the economy. Second, on September 25, 2020, the U.K. and the United States signed a new agreement to cooperate on Artificial Intelligence (AI) research and development.
U.K. National Data Strategy
The U.K. National Data Strategy is described by the U.K.’s Digital Secretary as “a central part of the government’s wider ambition for a thriving, fast-growing digital sector in the U.K., underpinned by public trust.” As part of this framework, the National Data Strategy has set out five “priority areas of action” to take advantage of the opportunities that investing in data offers. These are:
- Unlocking the value of data across the economy: To “create an environment where data is appropriately usable, accessible and available across the economy” by encouraging organizations to share and re-use datasets, where appropriate.
- Securing a pro-growth regime: To maintain and enhance a data regime that includes regulation of the digital and technological landscape, as well as data protection laws.
- Transforming government’s use of data to drive efficiency and improve public services: To “transform the way data is collected, managed, used and shared across government, including with the wider public sector” by recruiting a Chief Data Officer for the U.K. government.
- Ensuring the security and resilience of the infrastructure on which data relies: To ensure that all data collection, storage and transfers are handled securely in order to reduce cyber threats.
- Ensuring the security and resilience of the infrastructure on which data relies: To secure an adequacy decision from the European Commission in order to continue the free-flow of personal data between the European Union/European Economic Area (EEA) and the U.K., as well as working with the Information Commissioner’s Office to build cooperation between national data authorities. At the same time, the National Data Strategy suggests that Britain’s withdrawal from the EU provides an “opportunity to set the U.K. apart and take an independent, individual approach” to data, including working globally to “remove unnecessary barriers to international data flows” and supporting global work on interoperability.
The National Data Strategy is open for consultation until December 2, 2020.
U.K.-U.S. Partnership on AI
On September 25, 2020, the U.K. and U.S. entered into a new partnership on AI by signing a Declaration on Cooperation in Artificial Intelligence Research and Development, which is intended to promote the countries’ “shared vision” for AI in the areas of “economic growth, health and wellbeing, the protection of democratic values, and national security.” In particular, the new partnership envisages that the U.K. and U.S. governments will collaborate to advance their shared vision by (i) using bilateral science and technology cooperation and multilateral cooperation frameworks; (ii) recommending priorities for future cooperation, particularly in research and development (R&D) areas; (iii) coordinating the planning and programming of relevant activities in areas that have been identified; and (iv) promoting R&D in AI, focusing on challenging technical issues.
The two governments announced that they intend to establish a dialogue at an inter-governmental level on the areas identified in the “vision” and explore an AI R&D ecosystem that promotes the mutual wellbeing, prosperity and security of present and future generations.
Earlier this year, the U.K. and the U.S. also became two of the 15 founding members of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (see here for more details).