The Information Commissioner's Office is asking UK organisations to respond to proposals for the country's first-ever code of practice on data-sharing.
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The draft code sets out a model of good practice and covers routine data sharing as well as one-off instances where a decision is made to release data to a third party.
These could include a school passing information about a child to a social services department, insurance companies sharing data about claims, and doctors sending patient records to hospitals, the ICO said.
The information commissioner, Christopher Graham, called on all organisations that handle personal data to engage with the issue and offer their comments and suggestions on the draft code.
"Only then can we make sure we've got a robust and adaptable code of practice that can be applied across the board," he said.
Organisations that do not understand what can and cannot be done legally are as likely to disadvantage their clients through excessive caution as they are by carelessness, but when things go wrong this can cause serious harm, said Christopher Graham.
"We want citizens and consumers to be able to benefit from the responsible sharing of information, confident that their personal data is being handled responsibly and securely," he said.
The consultation on the draft code is to run for 12 weeks until 5 January 2011.
|What's in the data-sharing code of practice proposals?|
| The code covers a number of areas including:
Read more about the Information Commissioner's Office:
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- ICO given new powers to fine organisations for data losses >>
- ICO slaps three councils for data breaches >>
- Scottish hospital data loss could be test case for ICO >>
- Poor governance at the heart of poor data security, says ICO >>