Privacy seals will arrive in 2016

A privacy seal is a ‘stamp of approval’, which demonstrates good privacy practice and high data protection compliance standards. It will work much like the British Standard Institute’s Kitemark symbol.

A recent Information Commissioner’s Office, (‘ICO’), survey found that four out of five people approve of the introduction of such a symbol – showing that privacy and information rights are becoming increasingly important. The presence of a seal will, according to the ICO, “help an organisation build consumer trust and choice”.

A privacy seal will also raise the bar for privacy standards and will help protect personal information. It’s accepted internationally that privacy seals and trust marks are likely to become leading privacy compliance tools and the introduction of such seals is included in the European Commission’s draft proposals for data protection reform.

The ICO privacy seal will work by the ICO endorsing third parties to deliver ICO privacy seal schemes. It is envisaged by the ICO that there will be a number of scheme operators running schemes focusing on different sectors, processes, products or areas of compliance. Once ICO endorsed, the scheme operators will be responsible for the day to day running of the scheme.

Once schemes are up and running, organisations will be able to apply to the relevant provider for an ICO privacy seal scheme. If an organisation is able to demonstrate that it meets the operator’s assessment criteria then that organisation will be awarded an ICO privacy seal. Once awarded, an organisation can use the seal externally to show how it is adopting best practice when it comes to looking after people’s information.

The ICO aims to have its privacy seal up and running in 2016. Organisations will then be able to apply to scheme operators for certification.

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