Consumer research has revealed that 50% of consumers still do not understand the privacy and marketing notices contained in many of the online and paper forms they are often asked to sign. This revelation has led the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to launch a new “Privacy Notices Code of Practice”, (the Code) which is aimed at helping organisations provide more user-friendly privacy and marketing notices.

The Code encourages organisations to get away from using legalistic language in their privacy notices and ensure that they are “clear” and “genuinely informative” so that the people it is aimed at are able to understand it. The Code emphasises the need for privacy notices to enable individuals not just to understand how their personal information is to be used but also what the consequences of this are for them.

Whilst compliance with the Code is not mandatory the ICO has expressly stated that it will take compliance with the Code into account when it receives a complaint that information has been collected in an unreasonable way.

The Code provides some practical examples of both good and bad privacy notices and a copy of the Code is available at www.ico.gov.uk.