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ICO publishes new guidance on data sharing

22/12/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published new guidance on data sharing, saying it reflects the demands of legislation from 2018.

A spokesperson said it covers the changes in legislation when the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018 came into effect in May 2018, and highlighted a handful of aspects including transparency, lawful bases for using personal data, the new accountability principle and the requirement to record processing activities.

The new guidance highlights the relevance of the Digital Economy Act to data sharing across the public sector, pointing to a specific codes for the sector published by the Government.

It says that, while the Data Protection Act gives the secretary of state discretionary power to publish a framework for data processing by government, it would expect this to be consistent with the existing code.

Reputation factor

On a more general front, the guidance says that successfully embedding accountability will enhance an organisation’s reputation, and that there is a general obligation to evidence compliance and justify an approach, which requires relevant documentation. A data sharing agreement is one example of good practice.

It also highlights the need for a ‘data protection by design and default’ approach within a data protection policy to help comply with the law and good practice.

The guidance also includes a checklist and a template for request forms for data sharing.

Elizabeth Denham

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham (pictured) said: “I have seen first-hand how sharing data between organisations has been crucial to supporting and protecting people during the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“That includes public authorities and supermarkets sharing information to support vulnerable people shielding or health data being shared to support fast, efficient and effective delivery of pandemic responses.”

She added that it should be regarded “not as a conclusion, but a milestone” and that it should be seen as part of wider effort to deal with technical, organisational and cultural issues around data sharing.

Alongside the code, the ICO has launched a data sharing information hub where organisations can find targeted support and resources.

Image from ICO

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