The University of Southampton

ECS researcher to review Transparency impact for Cabinet Office

Published: 7 December 2010

ECS academic Dr Kieron O'Hara has been asked to lead a review of the impact of Transparency on Privacy to inform the UK Government's approach to the release of public data as part of the Transparency agenda.

The Transparency and Privacy Review was announced today (Tuesday 7 December) by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude. The Review will enable Government to ensure that on-going releases of data provide maximum transparency of data consistent with the appropriate data protection safeguards.

Access to public data has been a key concern of the Government since it came to office, continuing an initiative which began in June 2009 when Gordon Brown, then Prime Minister, appointed Professor Nigel Shadbolt and Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, both of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, as Advisers on linked open data and its release in the appropriate form. Earlier this year, Professors Shadbolt and Berners-Lee were appointed as Transparency and Open Data Advisers to the current Government, and have been working closely on the development of and the provision of central and local government data that contribute to the transparency agenda.

The Review to be led by Dr O'Hara will support the Government in striking the right balance between transparency and data protection safeguards, and between the interests of wider society and the individual or corporate body; it will identify the nature of the risk to privacy of the individual, in particular the potential for 'jigsaw' identification; and advise the Government on practical approaches in the future.

Dr O'Hara has widespread interests in privacy, trust and in Web Science. Last week he chaired a conference at the British Library on 'Ethics and the Web', held at the British Library. His book 'Spy in the Coffee Machine: The end of privacy as we know it', co-authored with Nigel Shadbolt, covered many aspects of the most pressing and troubling aspects of threats to privacy in our society.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

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