In this research, commissioned by the ODI and delivered by Oxford Insights, we explore the role of regulators, industry bodies and professional bodies in creating the conditions for the trustworthy sharing and reuse of data within individual sectors as well as across sectors. Data assurance plays an important role in this. We define data assurance as ‘the process, or set of processes that increase confidence that data will meet a specific need, and that organisations collecting, accessing, using and sharing data are doing so in trustworthy ways’. This helps to make data more accessible and usable. It also ensures that rights such as data protection and intellectual property (IP) are protected. In turn, this improves trust in the data ecosystem, enabling increased data-sharing.

We focused on regulators, industry bodies and professional bodies because they all play a key role in their data ecosystems: both directly, as organisations accessing, using and sharing data themselves, and indirectly, as bodies which influence the data practices of other organisations.

These bodies conduct work to define principles, influence regulation and best practices, develop and enforce professional norms and ethics, take action to censure those that breach rules, and build skills through training. They do however, have different powers and levers available to them.

Using both ‘hard' and ‘soft’ powers, all three types of organisation can support the development and adoption of data assurance schemes.

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