Jara Kampmann, Dr. Deborah Wiltshire
Not all microdata can be anonymised without losing too much detail. For some data, once sufficient detail is removed to make it anonymous, much of its utility is lost. Therefore, data that is not fully anonymised, is increasingly made available. Under data protection legislation, these data are considered ‘personal data’ and require appropriate safeguards. Trusted Research Environments (TREs) play an integral role in enabling safe access to sensitive data. In the earlier years of secure access, Safe Rooms – secured, physical locations - were the predominant access route. Safe Rooms have considerable advantages, not least because of the ability for secure data services to control almost all factors. Safe Rooms have one significant drawback – the burden on researchers to travel, sometimes long distances, to work at a specific location, a burden not all researchers are able to meet equally. This has led to exploring remote access options. The pandemic which led to a lengthy shutdown of Safe Room data access, has further pushed this agenda forward. The move towards easier, more flexible remote access options is a popular one with researchers but it comes with a dilemma for TREs – how to manage the differential risks of the different access routes. The 5 Safes Framework has been widely used to structure the decision-making processes in TREs. The Secure Data Center team at GESIS will explore how it can be utilized in managing the move to new access routes.