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The UK government funded the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) with the explicit aim of making administrative data available for research; however, the legal framework for doing so is complex and the basis for disclosing these data to third party researchers is not straightforward. This paper critically analyses the legal framework for public authorities to disclose administrative data for the purposes of research, which will change significantly with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the UK Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA). Our practical assessment of the new statutory power under the DEA for public authorities to disclose non-identifiable administrative data for research purposes highlights the challenges that may remain for researchers requiring access to linked administrative and health and adult social care data. Our review, in this paper, of the existing regimes for research using linked data is therefore necessary and useful for researchers, public authorities and data protection advisers.


Journal article


Journal of Data Protection and Privacy

Publication Date





264 - 277