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Information Commissioner publishes new Data Sharing Code of Practice

The Information Commissioner's office has published its new code of practice laying out how organisations and businesses can carry out responsible data sharing.

The 'Data Sharing Code' is intended to guide practitioners through the practical steps they need to take to share data while protecting people's privacy.

The ICO also intends for the new code to make it easy for individuals, businesses and organisations to share data in a fair, safe and transparent way.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said the new code comes at a time when data sharing is especially important for local authorities reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Denham 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."

Responsible data sharing also plays an important role for local authorities in delivering services, according to the Information Commissioner.

"In the sphere of public service delivery," the Information Commissioner said, "efficient sharing of data can improve insights, outcomes and increase options for recipients."

But publicising the new code will not be enough to solve the challenges of data sharing – cultural, technical, and organisational factors act as barriers to responsible data sharing, according to the ICO.

"Overcoming these will require more than just the ICO; it will require a collective effort from practitioners, government and the regulator," Denham said.

"I see the publication of this code not as a conclusion but as a milestone in this ongoing work. The ICO will continue to provide clarity and advice in how data can be shared in line with the law. This code, and the products and toolkits published alongside it, provides a gateway to good data sharing practice and the benefits we can expect from the results."

Adam Carey

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