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The heads of several public sector organisations, but none from central government, have signed a promise to protect personal information.

Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, launched the 10 point Personal Information Promise on 28 January 2009. Those signing have pledged to "go further than just the letter of the law" in handling personal data, minimise the range and duration of data retention, train staff in its handling and treat its misuse as a disciplinary matter.

Several public sector bosses have signed the promise, including Gwyn Thomas, chief executive of Welsh NHS IT body Informing Healthcare, Tim Straugham, chief executive of the English NHS Information Centre, Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, and Tom Hartley, the lord mayor of Belfast City Council.

But the ICO confirmed a claim by campaign group No2ID, that no minister or head of a central government department had signed so far. This was despite justice minister Jack Straw and the permanent secretaries of the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions being among those invited to sign at the launch, according to a statement released by the ICO under a Freedom of Information request.

"I urge leaders across government, the public, private and third sectors to take a positive attitude to data protection," said Thomas. "Protecting people's personal details should not be left to chance. I urge all CEOs and their executive teams to take personal responsibility for treating data protection as a corporate governance issue affecting the whole organisation."

Companies signing included British Telecom, British Gas, Royal Mail, T-Mobile, Vodafone and the three credit reference agencies, Callcredit, Equifax and Experian.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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