ICO puts a price on privacy

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published its long-awaited study into the value of data protection.

The Privacy Dividend was launched yesterday at a Data Protection Officer Conference and is intended to help organisations to build a business case for adopting best practice in data protection. The report is the result of three months’ research by Watson Hall and John Leach Information Security.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said at the launch that, “no organisation can neglect to protect people’s privacy. Not only is it the law, but there is also a hard-headed business imperative. This report provides organisations with the tools to produce a financial business case for data protection ensuring privacy protection is hardwired into organisational culture and governance.”

The report identifies four perspectives from which personal information draws its privacy value. These are its asset value as an operational resource, its value to the individual, its value to other parties with an interest in using it (legally or improperly) and its societal value.

A notable inclusion in the report is the calculation sheet for the first of these – data as an asset. The authors provide a range of tools for working through this sum which remains one of the key challenges for organisations in the absence of any accepted accounting standard.

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