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Mind your own: Scotland unveils privacy principles

5 new rules intended to help keep Scots' personal data private

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The Scottish Government has published new guidance on achieving privacy-friendly public services. The five principles should encourage good practice and ensure personal data is always handled with respect, according to the the Scottish Government.

The principles have been devised by an expert group - including the Assistant Information Commissioner for Scotland and Registrar General - and are subject to full public consultation.

They involve:

  • Proving identity or entitlement - people should not be asked to prove who they are unless it is necessary. Public bodies should ask for as little information as possible, identifying themselves and offering alternative ways to provide identity and/or entitlement for a service;
  • Governance and accountability - public service organisations should adopt privacy and security policies and procedures;
  • Risk management - organisations should carry out privacy impact assessments on any new initiative that enables access to services and involves the collection, storage or use of personal information;
  • Data and data sharing - public services should minimise the personal information they hold, avoid creating centralised databases of information and store personal and transactional data separately; and
  • Education and engagement - there should be efforts to raise public awareness of the principles and ensure those handling the data have a good working knowledge of the issues.

John Swinney, cabinet secretary for finance and sustainable growth, said: "Respect for privacy should be central to the way public services manage personal data. I want the public to be able to trust and have confidence in Scottish public services that are not only effective but also secure and privacy-friendly.

"These principles provide guidance for public sector policy makers and practitioners. I believe they are a major step forward in helping organisations achieve privacy-friendly services, and I expect them to be embraced fully."

Ken Macdonald, the assistant information commissioner for Scotland, warned that the Information Commissioner's Office is prepared to impose fines of up to £500,000 on organisations failing to properly protect people's personal information.

"The new principles that have been developed for the Scottish Government are tailored to help public bodies to get it right first time and I would urge all authorities to ensure they are being put into practice," he said. "It needn't be an arduous task and the pay-off is immeasurable as it will help to maintain the public's trust in how their information is handled by Scotland's public services."

This article was originally published at Kable.

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