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Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation: Advisory Board and Future Focus

Volume 700: debated on Friday 10 September 2021

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation sits at the heart of the Government’s ambitious data agenda, and will play a critical role in helping the UK Government to deliver on the priorities set out in the national data strategy. The CDEI is the UK Government’s expert body on the trustworthy use of data and data-driven technologies, including AI.

Today, we are announcing changes to the CDEI’s role and the makeup of its advisory board. Building on the insights of the CDEI’s first two years of operation, and having conducted a robust internal review, it is clear that more active support is needed to facilitate responsible innovation on data use across the economy. The CDEI is well placed to play this role, and having listened carefully to the public’s views through our consultation on the National Data Strategy, I have decided that this should be the priority for the CDEI’s next phase of work. It should be concentrating on current Government priorities with the primary role of operationalising Government’s data and Al policy. The CDEI’s purpose is making sure that responsible data-driven innovation in complex areas actually happens, boosting the UK’s tech and research competitiveness, and supporting the transformation of the use of data and AI by the public and private sectors.

When working in partnership with organisations, the CDEI will deliver, test and refine trustworthy approaches to data and AI governance, and address barriers to innovation. It will operationalise concepts such as “transparency” and “accountability” in the real world, and build the foundations for public trust in the use of data and AI. In doing so, it will help the UK to capitalise on the societal and economic opportunities posed by data and data-driven technologies, while managing the risks.

The CDEI is already working with partners to pilot tech and data policy use cases in a number of sectors including local government, transport, online safety, recruitment and social care. Given these new objectives and activities, the CDEI’s current status as an expert committee is adequate and we are not planning for it to be placed on a statutory footing at this time. Similarly, the Government will not require the CDEI to report to Parliament in future separately from its parent department, DCMS. The CDEI will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the same way as any other aspect of departmental activity.

To support the delivery of an ambitious new work programme closely aligned with Government priorities, we have appointed an advisory board of leading experts to support the CDEI in its new phase of operations. The open recruitment campaign attracted a stellar group of proven innovators in data use. We are grateful that several outstanding members of the existing board have agreed to continue in their posts as well, including the Deputy Chair, Edwina Dunn. Edwina has agreed to act as interim Chair, while we continue our search for a permanent Chair.