ICO publishes new guidance on data sharing

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published new guidelines on data exchange that reflect the requirements of the 2018 legislation.

A spokesman said it covered the changes in legislation when the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 came into effect in May 2018, highlighting a handful of issues including transparency, lawful bases for the use of personal data, the new principle of Accountability and the requirement to record processing activities.

The new guidelines highlight the relevance of the digital economy law for data exchange in the public sector and refer to specific codes for the sector published by the government.

The Data Protection Act grants the State Secretary the discretion to publish a framework for data processing by the government, but it would expect this to be compatible with the existing code.

Reputation factor

More generally, the guidelines state that successfully embedding accountability will improve an organization’s reputation and that there is a general obligation to demonstrate compliance and to justify an approach that requires relevant documentation. A data exchange agreement is an example of good practice.

It also highlights the need for a “Data Protection by Design and Default” approach within a privacy policy to support compliance with laws and best practices.

The instructions also contain a checklist and a template for application forms for data exchange.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham (pictured) said: “I have seen firsthand the importance of data sharing between organizations in helping and protecting people in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This includes government agencies and supermarkets sharing information to help shield vulnerable people or sharing health data to help deliver pandemic responses quickly, efficiently and effectively.”

She added that this should be seen “not as a conclusion but as a milestone” and that it should be seen as part of a wider effort to address technical, organizational and cultural issues related to data sharing.

In addition to the code, the ICO has set up an information hub for data exchange, through which companies can find targeted support and resources.

Image from ICO

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