Protecting and enhancing the security and resilience of UK data infrastructure

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology written statement – made at on 14 December 2023.

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Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Today, the Government has published the public consultation, Protecting and enhancing the security and resilience of UK data infrastructure. Data and its associated infrastructure and services are increasingly crucial to the UK’s economy, future growth, and security, and are therefore strategically important at a national and global level – in 2022, the UK data economy represented 6.9% of GDP, and 76% of UK service exports worldwide are data-enabled.

The value of data means that the data infrastructure in which it is concentrated, and data centres, in particular, are an attractive target to those with malign interests. Data infrastructure can also be vulnerable to disruption from other hazards, including climate events, such as extreme weather, which have the potential to interrupt the continuity of data-dependent services, causing impacts that could potentially be felt across the UK economy, public services and citizens’ day-to-day lives.

The government proposes to introduce a proportionate statutory framework, and complementary voluntary measures, to establish oversight of the security and resilience of UK data infrastructure. This would include regulatory requirements for operators of data centre services that we have identified as bearing risks that are particularly relevant to UK national interests and national security. The framework would ensure data centre operators have baseline mitigation measures in place, overseen by a new regulatory function. The consultation also seeks views on designating the parts of the data centre sector as critical national infrastructure. Views and evidence provided through consultation will inform design and decision-making on whether to proceed, and how such measures would be designed and implemented. We particularly welcome input from data centre operators, cloud platform providers, managed service providers and other relevant market actors such as customers and suppliers, as well as independent or academic experts on data storage and processing.

A copy of the consultation will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on GOV.UK. The consultation will run until 22 February 2024