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UNECE/EFTA Expert Meeting on Modernizing Statistical Legislation

UNECE/EFTA Expert Meeting on Modernizing Statistical Legislation

18 - 19 November 2021
Geneva Switzerland

Improving the governance of statistical production and the legal framework is fundamental to producing high-quality statistics and a priority for many countries. The Conference of European Statisticians (CES) has been supporting its members in this area by developing and endorsing, together with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Eurostat, the Generic Law on Official Statistics (2016) and the Guidance on Modernizing Statistical Legislation (2019).

The present meeting will be the second UNECE Expert Meeting on Modernizing Statistical Legislation. The target audience of the meeting are experts from national statistical offices and international organizations interested in strengthening the legal framework of official statistics and legal aspects of data access, ethics, governance and stewardship. The Expert Meeting is open to all countries and international organizations.

Concept note and programme

17093 _ Concept Note _ 359890 _ English _ 773 _ 335731 _ pdf

Access to privately held data

Access to privately held data remains a topic of profound interest, and there are many success stories concerning access to such data. However, it is less known to what extent the legislation behind these success stories has boosted the innovative data sharing practices between business and government. Can the legislation be the ultimate tool for breaking down the silos of data producers (national statistical offices) and data owners (data subjects)? This session will aim to identify legal rules, principles, practices, or even cultural specificities that have played a crucial role in these success stories. When it comes to international data sharing, different legislative regimes appear to be obstacles in the data sharing economy. Is it possible to foster a data sharing ecosystem that opens opportunities for more trusted collaboration and the common good?

This session will continue to explore different aspects and experiences of accessing privately held data and investigate international data sharing possibilities.

17089 _ WP.1 - Access to privately held data (Australia) _ 359892 _ English _ 773 _ 335733 _ pdf

Data ethics

In a world where data generated from all aspects of society can potentially be used by statistical offices to address their ever-growing information needs, considerations regarding data ethics have become increasingly important – how to ensure that data access, use and sharing is responsible, sustainable and guided by public benefit? What should be the ethical principles and to what extent can they be embedded in the law? What tools are needed so that the principles can effectively be applied in the everyday work of NSOs? Being at the forefront of these considerations is crucial for NSOs to ensure public trust and acceptability of using data for statistical purposes.

This session will examine the different approaches used around the world to assess ethical considerations during the production of official statistics. We will look at how ethical considerations could be established in law and explore ways in which the various NSOs balance public benefit with protecting privacy of individuals. Given its ongoing impact, the COVID-19 pandemic and its pressure on ethical frameworks will underpin the session.

Data governance and stewardship from a regulatory perspective

The data revolution and digitalization have changed the way that private companies as well as governments and individuals operate and engage with other actors in their ecosystems. This has led to the generation of vast amounts of data and the need to ensure that it is properly interpreted and used but also that all the necessary safeguards are in place for its safe treatment. Harnessing these data can create more value for society. The success of these activities depends on the existence of organizations and of teams in organizations that are empowered to proactively initiate, facilitate and coordinate data collaboratives. These data stewards systematize the process of partnering and support scaling of efforts for additional value creation.

With their solid data management expertise and commitment to data protection and confidentiality that are enshrined both in law and their culture, statistical offices are uniquely positioned to proactively assist both public and private actors to harness this data with the goal of creating efficiencies and benefits for society. Sound and transparent methodologies and processes are especially important if statistics derived from new data sources are used in the context of political decisions. Data sharing and value creation practices need to be supported by regulatory processes and mechanisms that are necessary to create a safe and enabling environment for statistical offices to fulfil their role as data stewards and for society, economy and government to fully benefit from it. A key step here is developing regulatory initiatives and a regulatory framework for national data strategies and defining the role of statistical offices in the wider data governance scheme.

The main goals of this session are to explore existing regulatory initiatives in the area of data stewardship and public data governance related to the role of statistical offices as data stewards and to facilitate a fruitful debate among representatives from different sectors.

17091 _ WP. 3 - "Government Integrated Database" Project (Mongolia) _ 359895 _ English _ 773 _ 335736 _ pdf

Implementing the Generic Law on Official Statistics – lessons learnt

The Generic Law on Official Statistics (GLOS) was published in 2016 and slightly revisited and extended two years later with the Guidance on Modernizing Statistical Legislation (2019). GLOS was originally intended as a guide for countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, but, in just 5 years, it is well on the way to becoming a global standard. It has already provided the basis for modernizing statistical legislation in many countries and has inspired regional adaptations in Latin America and the Middle East. In addition, GLOS is widely referenced in the recently adopted United Nations Handbook on Management and Organization of National Statistical Systems.

UNECE standards related to modernizing official statistics typically have a 5-year review cycle, so now is a good time to pause and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of GLOS, and the lessons learned from its use in practice. In this session, we particularly welcome contributions from countries that have used GLOS or are currently using it as a basis for modernizing their statistical laws, highlighting where it has helped and where it might be improved.