Disclosure control of machine learning models from trusted research environments (TRE): New challenges and opportunities

Esma Mansouri-Benssassi, Simon Rogers, Smarti Reel, Maeve Malone, Jim Smith, Felix Ritchie, Emily Jefferson (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Artificial intelligence (AI) applications in healthcare and medicine have increased in recent years. To enable access to personal data, Trusted Research Environments (TREs) (otherwise known as Safe Havens) provide safe and secure environments in which researchers can access sensitive personal data and develop AI (in particular machine learning (ML)) models. However, currently few TREs support the training of ML models in part due to a gap in the practical decision-making guidance for TREs in handling model disclosure. Specifically, the training of ML models creates a need to disclose new types of outputs from TREs. Although TREs have clear policies for the disclosure of statistical outputs, the extent to which trained models can leak personal training data once released is not well understood.

Background: We review, for a general audience, different types of ML models and their applicability within healthcare. We explain the outputs from training a ML model and how trained ML models can be vulnerable to external attacks to discover personal data encoded within the model.

Risks: We present the challenges for disclosure control of trained ML models in the context of training and exporting models from TREs. We provide insights and analyse methods that could be introduced within TREs to mitigate the risk of privacy breaches when disclosing trained models.

Discussion: Although specific guidelines and policies exist for statistical disclosure controls in TREs, they do not satisfactorily address these new types of output requests; i.e., trained ML models. There is significant potential for new interdisciplinary research opportunities in developing and adapting policies and tools for safely disclosing ML outputs from TREs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15143
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Early online date3 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Trusted research environment
  • Safe haven
  • AI
  • Machine learning
  • Data privacy
  • Disclosure control


Dive into the research topics of 'Disclosure control of machine learning models from trusted research environments (TRE): New challenges and opportunities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this