A plain English Guide to Data Protection

I keep an eye on the Information Commissioner’s Office press releases on their website (in the hope that we’re not going to see schools appearing too often), where I suspect they have a busy Press Officer producing a constant stream of news (last 2 weeks : Recruitment firms fined; mobile phone customers record sold illegally; Primary Care Trusts break the law; One third of data security breaches result from burglary and theft).

On Thursday I saw that the ICO announced that it’s latest publication “demystifies data protection”.

It even quoted Stephen Alambritis, Head of Public Affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses:


Small businesses do not have time for pages and pages of jargon and gobbledegook, but getting data protection right makes good business sense. Data protection lapses cost reputations and can affect the bottom line. But, many organisations tell us that data protection law is difficult to understand. This new
no-nonsense guide will help the business community to understand and comply with the lawEndquotes

image It even promised to demystify plainly wrong stories, such as “It is illegal to take photographs of your children in their nativity play at school.” (It points out “The Data Protection Act does not prevent parents taking photographs of their children and friends participating in school events.”)

Well, after all the mystery that has surrounded information security in the public sector, I jumped straight over to the new guide, and downloaded the PDF version, with high hopes.

As a positive, it’s definitely written in plain English. Which is a relief after so many migraine-inducing data protection documents.

And there are many specific examples which are really useful to help understand it all. So if your job gets close to protecting data, then this is a must read.

But it runs to 92 pages. 92 pages for an easy-to-understand guide? One to pass to the Head I think!

Also a great source of facts to shout at the telly/newspaper with next time you see one of those idiotic data protection stories…

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