New code of practice for information sharing

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a Framework Code of Practice for sharing personal information.

Nov 1, 2007
By Paul Jacques

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a Framework Code of Practice for sharing personal information.

There are two main sorts of information sharing.

The first involves two or more organisations sharing information between them. This could be done by giving access to each other’s information systems or by setting up a separate shared database. This may lead to the specific disclosure of a limited amount of information on a one-off basis or the regular sharing of large amounts of information, for example bulk-matching name and address information in two databases.

The second involves the sharing of information between the various parts of a single organisation.

The content of the framework code is intended to be relevant to both types of information sharing.

It is intended to be of use to all organisations involved in information sharing throughout the UK, including voluntary bodies, but is particularly relevant to public sector organisations, especially the police.

It sets out what content a code of practice should have if it is to support good practice in the sharing of personal information, breaking down compliance with a fairly complex piece of legislation into a series of logical steps.

Using the framework code, organisations fill in their own detailed content, reflecting their own business needs. It is advised that, where a number of organisations are working collaboratively on an information sharing project, it is important that any codes of practice do not contradict each other or overlap confusingly. It is suggested that in many cases it would be best to have a single code of practice that all the organisations involved in the information sharing work to.

The framework code should also be of use even where there is a statutory requirement to share information.

Using the framework code will help organisations to make sure that they address all the main data protection compliance issues that are likely to arise when sharing information. This, in turn, should help organisations and their staff to make well-informed decisions about sharing personal information.

The Framework Code of Practice for Sharing Personal Information is available at http:// www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/data_protection/detailed_specialist_guides/pinfo-framework.pdf

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