Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Sharing of personal data - UK consultation

Privacy obviously may be affected when organisations give your personal data to others. UK privacy regulator the Information Commissioner last week issued a consultation paper on a data sharing code of practice, which -

"sets out a model of good practice for public, private and third sector organisations, and covers routine data sharing as well as one-off instances where a decision is made to release data to a third party…

The code covers a number of areas including:
what factors an organisation must take into account when coming to a decision about whether to share personal data;
the point at which individuals should be told about their data being shared;
• the security and staff training measures that must be put in place;
• the rights of the individual to access their personal data; and
• when it’s not acceptable to share personal data."

The press release mentions some scenarios where data sharing might occur eg -

"a school passing information about a child to a social services department, a group of insurance companies pooling data about people making claims, GPs sending a patient’s record to a hospital, or a retailer passing customer details to a debt collection company."

The consultation paper includes case studies, suggested contents for a data sharing protocol and template forms.

Note that, as the consultation paper itself points out, "The ICO cannot take enforcement action over a failure to adopt good practice or to act on the recommendations set out in this code unless this in itself constitutes a breach of the DPA." [UK Data Protection Act 1998]

The consultation ends on 5 Jan 2011. Anyone interested can download the consultation questions and respond by email to consultations@ico.gsi.gov.uk or by letter to: Policy Delivery, ICO, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. See further the ICO consultations page on publication of responses etc.

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