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ICO backs Fair Data kitemark for handling personal information

28 Jan 2013
Fair Data initiative launched on Data Privacy Day

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has backed the launch of a new kitemark for data handling.

Launched on Data Privacy Day, the Fair Data kitemark, has been created by the Market Research Society (MRS). It hopes the kitemark will ensure the public can place greater trust in organisations' handling and use of data responsibly.

It's intended for both private and public sector use and can be used only if the organisation adheres to a series of commitments relating to data use and protection.

These commitments are based on 10 core principles that include all data is collected with consent, is only used for the purposes for which it was initially gathered and that customers can access their own data easily.

"We believe that there is a real need to help the public identify with whom they can trust their data," said Jane Frost, the chief executive of the MRS.

"Public concern is at an all-time high and we are getting increasing numbers of complaints about data use."

The ICO said it welcomed the move, with information commissioner Christopher Graham underlining the importance of giving consumers trust their data is not being abused.

"If the public are to let their personal data be used then they need to know which organisations they can trust to use it properly. Organisations need to make a public, visible commitment to standards in the handling of the personal data of others," he said.

"I welcome this initiative as a step in the direction of getting users of public data to make such a public commitment to standards. My office has worked with MRS in the past on issues arising in the research area and I know they have the experience to launch this scheme."

Major firms have also backed the initiative, including PricewaterhouseCoopers and GlaxoSmithKline.

"Adopting a transparent approach to personal data is key in ensuring that research respondents feel confident that their data will be used in an ethical and responsible way," said Crispin Haywood, shopper science director at GlaxoSmithKline.

"The Fair Data principles provide a clear workable guideline for companies to adhere to and will undoubtedly help establish the right data management standards across the research industry."

The importance of data protection is increasing all the time as firms collect ever-growing volumes of information on the public.

This has led to sizeable fines for private and public firms, such as Sony being hit by a £250,000 fine last week.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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