Keeping data to a better standard

Your cover story (“Keepers of the truth”, September 2009) is right to focus on the critical governance role undertaken by data stewards. As former Information Commissioner Richard Thomas warned, “accountability is needed for all aspects of data handling – not just ensuring appropriate security… data quality and data cleansing are likely to assume ever greater importance”.

This is born out by BSI research which found that 20 per cent of SMEs may have unwittingly breached the Data Protection Act, not simply by failing to hold personal information securely, but by neglect of other legal obligations. Moreover, a third of businesses surveyed said that complexity of the DPA restricted their compliance.

This was the basis of our thinking when BSI developed BS 10012 (a specification for a personal information management system) and its pan-sector success suggests that organisations need a road-map to help keep their data stewardship practices both effective and lawful.

David Fatscher, Sector development manager, British Standards Institution

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