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Info chief calls for data safeguards in wake of HMRC debacle

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Organisations and individuals must step up the fight against identity fraud, the Information Commissioner's Office will say today.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) will say the data security problems at HM Revenue and Customs were a watershed and call for organisations to implement new safeguards to help protect individuals' privacy.

At a conference on the "surveillance society" in Manchester today, the ICO will also encourage people to take more control over their personal information to help them guard against the risks of identity fraud.

The UK's first privacy impact assessment handbook will be launched at the conference, aimed at helping help organisations address the risks to personal privacy before implementing new initiatives and technologies.

"Privacy impact assessments are a common sense approach to help organisations develop privacy friendly ways of working," said David Smith, the deputy information commissioner.

Research commissioned by ICO shows that six out of 10 people believe they have lost control over the way their personal information is handled.

Smith said: "Each time someone gives away their personal information they leave electronic footprints which build up a picture of every aspect of their daily lives.

"It is essential that before introducing new systems and technologies, which could accelerate the growth of a surveillance society, full consideration is given to the impact on individuals and that safeguards are in place to minimise intrusion."

The conference will also highlight the use of privacy enhancing technologies to help protect people's personal information. According to the ICO, these technologies can help to minimise the information collected about members of the public and ensure that privacy safeguards are built into systems.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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