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The present and future of the Five Safes framework

Green, Elizabeth; Ritchie, Felix

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The Five Safes has become the default framework for confidential data governance across multiple sectors and countries. Since its inception in 2003, the approach has influenced data management in many ways, particularly in the public sector. As it has become established and widely used, both its advantages and limitations have come to the fore, along with an understanding of modern data management principles. This paper explores the history, application, strengths and limitations in the Five Safes. It discusses the different variations on the framework over time, as well as recent suggestions for deepening or extending the framework. Finally we discuss the framework's relationship to the emerging preference for principles-based regulation and design, showing how there is a concordance between the two which may lead to a new consensus on good data governance design models.


Green, E., & Ritchie, F. (2023). The present and future of the Five Safes framework. Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality, 13(2),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 29, 2023
Online Publication Date Nov 30, 2023
Publication Date Dec 6, 2023
Deposit Date Aug 30, 2023
Publicly Available Date Dec 12, 2023
Journal Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality
Electronic ISSN 2575-8527
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 2
Keywords Data governance; data management; Five Safes; confidentiality; privacy; principles-based
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