Pinsent Masons to advise on pioneering data trusts projects

31 Jan 2019 | 04:41 pm | 3 min. read

International Law firm Pinsent Masons has been appointed by the Open Data Institute to advise on the legal aspects of establishing 'data trusts' as three innovative UK government backed projects are announced.

The Open Data Institute (ODI) in partnership with the Government's Office for AI (OAI) are leading three new pilots to inform the design and development of data trusts. Jeremy Wright, the UK's digital, culture, media and sport secretary announced details of the pilots today (31st January 2019).

Each of the projects will explore the concept of data trusts in different ways and will be used to form a proposal for the use of data trusts in the future. The aim is to harness the power of data exchange between organisations that have data and those that can use the data in tackling major global challenges.

The UK Government have supported the pilots following the 2017 Independent Review of AI which identified a failure of access to data and recommended the exploration of data trusts as a model for combating this.

Pinsent Masons have been appointed by ODI to advise on the legal aspects of establishing data trusts and will be the leading law firm on two of the three pilots.

Chris Martin, partner and data technology law expert at Pinsent Masons said:"We believe that data is an asset and enabler for progressive change. In 2018 we developed a Data Trust Working Group to bring together specialist lawyers from multiple areas of the firm, all with a passion for data and with a common goal of resolving the complex legal considerations that arise when considering data trusts.

 "Working on the pilots is a fantastic opportunity to utilise the work we have completed over the last year and apply the expertise of our lawyers to work towards the creation of a trusted data sharing framework."

 In the first pilot, the ODI will work with WILDLABS to explore how a data trust model can be used to make data relating to wildlife across the globe more accessible, with the long term goal of reducing illegal trade of wildlife.

 Chris commented "quality and relevant data is essential to the development of algorithms used in artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions.

"This pilot looks at how we can use a data trust model to open up the availability of data which has already been collected. In doing so, we allow the creation of new technologies which may, for example, be able to identify illegally traded wildlife in environments such as border control in the UK and around the world."

The second pilot will see the ODI partner with WRAP, a not for profit organisation which works with governments, businesses and citizens to create a world in which we source and use resources sustainably. The data trust model will be applied to food supply chain data with the aim of reducing food waste by improving the ability of retailers and manufacturers to track and measure food waste within supply chains.

In the third pilot, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Greater London Authority will be looking at how data collected through their Sharing Cities Programme, could help make certain data available in a data trust, including energy consumption data collected by sensors and devices in buildings; data about parking space occupancy and the availability of charging bays for electric vehicles. 

Jeni Tennison, CEO at ODI said: “Increasing access to data can help people, communities and organisations make better and more timely decisions - such as which energy supplier to use, the route a bus should take, or whether to invest in creating a new product. But the people and organisations that have data, use it, and are affected by its use need to trust that it is stewarded well and shared equitably and for agreed purposes.

“Data trusts are one potential way to increase sharing of data and unlock more social and economic benefits from data while protecting other interests such as people's privacy, corporate confidentiality or, as in the pilot we're doing on data about endangered animals, our environment. The ODI is also looking at other approaches to increased access to data, including data sharing models such as those adopted by the European innovation programme Data Pitch, where large organisations share data with startups in order to fuel innovation and answer specific challenges.”

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