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ig data has been announced as one of the Government’s

eight great technologies with priorities for funding and

research. In June 2013, the Government published their

“information economy strategy” outlining the pivotal role big data will

play in rebuilding and strengthening the economy. This was followed

in October 2013 by “Seizing the data opportunity: a strategy for UK

data capability”.

Traditional data storage systems were not designed for real-time

analysis but new technologies can now provide live information and

data analysis can be accomplished in real-time. Social media data

offers the possibility of studying social processes as they unfold at

the level of populations as an alternative to traditional surveys or

interviews. The data from social media is described as “qualitative

data on a quantitative scale” and requires innovative analysis


The Science and Technology Committee agreed to hold an inquiry

into social media data and real time analytics. As Horizon has

been researching privacy-preserving ways to handle personal

data, we responded to their call for written evidence to the inquiry

with five pages of legal and ethical considerations, including: “The

inclusiveness of social media means that it is very easy to ingest the

personal data of vulnerable individuals... hence processing this data

requires the highest degree of care and the most stringent safety


Behind the scenes at the Information Economy Council, Professor

Derek McAuley was busy chairing a working group investigating

ways to build consumer confidence in the personal data economy

which has concluded with a recommendation for a voluntary code of

conduct and a consumer focussed “kitemark” scheme.

This combination of activities led to Professor McAuley being

invited to give verbal evidence at the House of Commons. He said:

“I approached my first select committee with some trepidation – but

the MPs wanted to learn and we were happy to oblige.”

The select committee report on November 28th 2014 entitled

“Responsible Use of Data” drew out twelve conclusions and

recommendations, with eight of those concerned with the use of

personal information and clearly identifying a “kitemark” scheme as a

progressive way forward.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Sue Jones


Select committee report:

Shaping policy at the House of Commons