ICO launches Personal Information Promise

The ICO has launched the Personal Information Promise

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) today launched the Personal Information Promise, a charter that once signed by businesses and public sector bodies will give individuals more trust and faith in their ability to handle personal information.

Signing the promise confirms that the company has agreed to commit to a number of standards in the area of data protection, and although officially launched today, a number of organisations have already signed up. These include the Royal Mail, British Gas, BT, T-Mobile and the Greater Manchester Police, while the ICO expects many more to sign in the future.

In research, the ICO found that most organisations are strong advocates of the Data Protection Act with 95 per cent saying that it is a necessity, and 87 per cent adding that adherence to it "improves customers' trust".

Adam Crozier, Royal Mail Group's chief executive, added: "Royal Mail Group welcomes this initiative and is very pleased to support it as we are committed to high standards of personal data integrity and security across the whole of our operations."

Data losses and thefts are well publicised these days and firms have been repeatedly advised by the ICO to improve their practices and processes. Now, it is reminding them that ensuring that data is well managed and looked after has many business benefits, and is not just about saving face.

"Data protection is good for business. We say so and businesses say so. Organisations are waking up to the fact that privacy is now so significant that lapses risk reputations and bottom lines. What company wants inaccurate records on its customers? What public body can afford to take risks with sensitive personal details? I urge leaders across government, the public, private and third sectors to take a positive attitude to data protection," said Information Commissioner Richard 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. They have to make sure that safeguarding the personal information of the customers and staff is embedded in their organisational culture."