ICO Launches UK Code of Practice on Data Sharing

A new statutory code has been published recently by the ICO. The new release hopes to help businesses and public sector bodies share information appropriately.

The code aims to produce a better understanding of when, where and how personal information should be shared and details how to keep data secure. It will also produce a better relationship between organisations wishing to share their data. Furthermore there will be less chance of breaking the law and consequent enforcement action by the ICO and other regulators.

The ICO’s data sharing code of practice covers both routine in addition to one-off instances of data sharing. The release incudes advice for organisations which wish to share personal information. An example scenario would be when a local authority wishes to share data with a health service.

Such codes of conduct are relevant in such instances as when local authorities wish to share data with health authorities. Furthermore it gives advice on how the data protection act applies to data sharing.

Information commissioner Christopher Graham commented:

“Few would argue that sharing data can play an important role in providing an efficient service to consumers in both the public and private sector. More and more transactions are done online – from shopping and banking to managing tax and health records. People now have an expectation that, where appropriate and necessary, their personal details may be shared. However, this does not mean that companies or public bodies can do this just as they see fit. The public rightly want to remain in control of who is using their information and why, and they need to feel confident that it is being kept safe.”

In a further statement Graham said:
“The code of practice we’ve issued today offers a best practice approach that can be applied in all sectors. It reflects the constructive comments we received during the consultation period, meaning that we can be confident that it not only makes sense on paper but will also work in the real world too. I’d encourage all businesses and public bodies that share personal data to get to grips with the code without delay so they can be sure they are getting it right.”

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