ICO calls for privacy impact assessments

As part of its push for “privacy by design”, the Information Commissioner’s Office is issuing a new handbook for companies on how to develop privacy impact assessments. The aim is for organisations to consider how new IT systems or processes for handling personal information will affect data subjects before they are implemented.

“For the public to have trust in an organisation, individuals must be confident that their information is held securely and processed in line with the Data Protection Principles. Each time someone gives away their personal information this not only puts the data at risk, they can leave a footprint creating a detailed picture of aspects of their daily lives,” says Assistant Information Commissioner Jonathan Bamford.

He adds: “Therefore, it is essential that, before introducing new systems and technologies which could accelerate the growth of a surveillance society, full consideration is given to the impact on individuals and that safeguards are in place to minimise intrusion. Privacy impact assessments are a common sense approach to help organisations develop privacy friendly ways of working.”

Benefits of PIAs include identifying and managing risks, avoiding unnecessary costs and avoiding the introduction of solutions that prove to be inadequate. The ICO is keen to help companies avoid loss of consumer trust.

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