5 safes of data management

5 Safes is a framework for handling access and re-use requests for confidential or sensitive data. The framework demonstrates best practice for allowing confidential data to be used, without sacrificing the privacy of the individuals represented in the data.

5 safes

The framework was developed by Felix Ritchie, who gave an overview of its use at one of the Open Research Seminars from earlier this year. The 5 safes are pretty self-explanatory:

  • Safe projects – use of the data should only be for genuine projects for which it is suitable
  • Safe people – the data should only be used by trusted researchers who will use the data appropriately
  • Safe data – the data should be de-identified as much as possible
  • Safe settings – the data should be stored securely, with limited access
  • Safe outputs – the data used in any outputs must not breach confidentiality

The framework is used by the UK Data Service, who have written a blog post and produced a four-minute video about how they use the 5 safes to give access to secure data.


Image used – “Safe” by Jan Tik is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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