On October 8, 2010, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office launched a consultation on a new statutory code of practice on the sharing of personal data.

As stated in the ICO’s press release, the draft code sets out a model of good practice, covering routine and one-off arrangements for sharing data with third parties. The code offers guidance on issues such as:

  • The factors that an organization must take into account when deciding whether or not to share personal data
  • The point at which individuals should be told that their data will be shared
  • The security and staff training measures that must be implemented
  • The rights of individuals to access their personal data
  • Circumstances in which it is not acceptable to share personal data

UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said:

“Under the right circumstances and for the right reasons, data sharing across and between organisations can play a crucial role in providing a better, more efficient service to customers…Organisations that don’t understand what can and cannot be done legally are as likely to disadvantage their clients through excessive caution as they are by carelessness. But when things go wrong this can cause serious harm. We want citizens and consumers to be able to benefit from the responsible sharing of information, confident that their personal data is being handled responsibly and securely.”

The consultation will last for 12 weeks, ending on January 5, 2011. Organizations are encouraged to comment on the draft code.