Pinsent Masons Provides Breakthrough Legal Advice

Pinsent Masons has provided the legal advice in a set of new reports recommending the latest innovation in the burgeoning technology of data trusts.

The reports, ‘Food Data Trusts: a framework for sharing information’, produced by the Internet of Food Things team at the University of Lincoln and Food Data Trust – Legal, Structuring and Governance, written by Pinsent Masons, both commissioned by the Food Standards Agency propose a breakthrough technology to resolve longstanding issues of consumer confidence in food labelling, origins and authenticity and the legal framework to support this.

The proposal is for a data trust framework under which businesses at all points in the food supply chain, from growers and manufacturers to retailers, can safely share selective in-house data. This could significantly improve supply chain processes while boosting consumer confidence about where foods come from, how sustainably they’re sourced and their authenticity.

The legal report, written by a team of data experts from Pinsent Masons including Andrew McMillan, Sarah Cameron, Michele Voznick, Lauro Fava, Chris Martin, Angelique Bret and Brendan Ryan, sets out the necessary collaboration agreements underpinning a data trust framework.

Professor Simon Pearson, Professor of Agri-Food Technology at the University of Lincoln, said: “It’s easy to understand why businesses are reluctant to share such commercially sensitive information. No one wants to reveal their advantages to their competitors. But, in the data age, this reluctance is holding up much-needed advances.

Sharing data in a secure and limited way can help to expose and tackle problems from incorrect labelling and widespread food fraud to tracing contaminated food, as well as speeding up product recalls.”

Importantly, the framework is not a data trust itself: it is a mechanism to manage data trusts, which might be decentralised, diverse data collections.

It is designed to control the way that data may be exchanged across data trusts that are linked temporarily, to ensure that information can be shared securely for example between regulators and other government departments that need to exchange secure and trustworthy data.

It also provides great potential to connect with AI services in order to provide access to dynamic and fresh data in return for immediate AI-derived information that could benefit the interconnected participants in the supply chain.

The report follows Pinsent Masons’ work on the Open Data Institute’s and Government Office for AI’s ground-breaking data-trust pilots, looking at how data trusts can be used to tackle major global challenges.

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