The UK’s 2022 Digital Strategy, what does it mean for UK data policy?

14 Jun 2022 11:02 AM

The Government’s new strategy identifies data as a key digital foundation upon which a vibrant, resilient, and growing digital economy can be built.

On 13 June 2022, the Government published its much-awaited updated Digital Strategy, following its last publication in 2017. techUK’s full summary and analysis of the strategy can be read here.

In its initial analysis, the Strategy identifies that the UK’s digital economy is flourishing, in-part due to the UK’s strength in key areas including its data-driven economy which grew twice as quickly as the rest of the economy during the 2010s, making up about 4% of the UK gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020.

Announcements for UK Data Policy:

To achieve its Strategy, the Government has identified six essential areas of action needed to support sustained digital growth, one of which is “Digital Foundations” that identifies the power of data as a key pillar for economic resilience and growth.

Under this pillar, the Strategy makes several commitments on data policy including:

The Strategy also references the power of data in other sections:

Separate to the Digital Strategy, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) yesterday announced, the launch of a new programme of work on responsible data access which aims to drive innovative approaches to tackling some of the barriers to responsible data sharing. This programme will support the implementation of Mission 1 of the National Data Strategy, including Smart Data schemes under BEIS. 

Will the Digital Strategy be enough for UK data policy?

techUK welcomes the Strategy’s recognition of the importance of data in driving the UK’s economic and digital growth and supports key policy interventions such as reform of the data protection regime and primary legislation for Smart Data as ways to drive UK data-driven innovation.  

It is also promising to see that the Strategy acknowledges current global challenges around data localisation requirements which hamper innovation and multinational cooperation. As well as continuing to be an international leader and advocate for the free flow of data with trust, the UK Government should also ensure data localisation requirements do not trickle into domestic government activities, such as contracting and procurement.

There are still also missing pieces in the UK Government’s Data Strategy and Digital Strategy, such as the opening up of key public sector and Government data sets which could help stimulate innovation and new products and services. The Strategy references the success of the publication of Transport for London live data and Government should use this model to open up other data sets for commercial use.

In delivering on the interventions outlined in the Digital Strategy, as well as the ambitions of the UK National Data Strategy (NDS), Government should continue to work closely with the National Data Strategy Forum to ensure a broad range of diverse perspectives continue to inform the implementation of the NDS.

UK Digital Strategy