Happy Data Privacy Day!

Image3Happy Data Privacy Day! To mark the day the Market Research Society (MRS) has launched ‘Fair Data, a new ethical mark they claim will help members of the public to easily identify between those organisations which collect, use and retain personal data properly and ethically, and those that do not.

MRS hope that all organisations that collect and use personal data will be able to use the Fair Data mark which will become the instantly recognisable standard for an organisation that can be trusted to do the right think with all individuals’ data.

In order to become an accredited member of the Fair Data scheme, organisations must agree to adhere to ten core principles which will be supplemented by MRS’s advisory service to ensure that organisations understand their obligations. There will also be an audit process which will be mandataory for all client organisations that are not already MRS accredited.

MRS is of course right that consumers are increasingly concerned about privacy in a broader sense, not just how their personal information is used. Tracking our behaviour and collecting huge amounts of data about how we use the internet are major issues too and as such the FairData scheme will not be trusted by consumers if it ignores this vast category of data collection.

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has also been talking about practical ways to make children aware of the value of personal information. The ICO has launched a pilot project in two schools where pupils are being taught about the importance of safeguarding personal data.

The Information Commissioner, said: “Just as we teach citizenship in schools, you need to teach the importance of information rights. If students understand why this is important, they are more likely to be careful with their personal information. Once you have stuck something out there and it has been re-tweeted by your friends, you are stuck with it.”

Graham enforced that he did not want children to be “nagged” about their online lives but to be provided with an education into online privacy which would be of practical use. He added that the indiscriminate use of social networks could “blight” employment prospects for ever. The plans would also see older pupils will also be taught how to make Freedom of Information requests and shown how to deal with unsolicited texts and emails.

Consumers and internet users are increasingly aware of how valuable their data is and in just how many ways that it can be tracked. There is clearly a demand for practical methods to ensure that personal data is being kept safe and teaching children ways to safeguard their data is a significant step towards the future of individuals having control over their privacy.