Information Commissioner's Office
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Transparency with customers vital to success in digital economy

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is warning business leaders that transparency with customers is fundamental if they want to succeed in the digital economy.                     

new code of practice has recently been launched by the ICO which sets out how organisations should explain to people how they’re using their personal information.

It follows an ICO survey which found that only one in four adults trust businesses with their information.

Jo Pedder, ICO Head of Policy Delivery, said:

“Transparency is crucial to trust in big data, Internet of Things and development of the digital economy.

“Organisations need to do more to explain to consumers what they’re doing with their information and why. It’s important to remember that reputation can be easily lost when people discover you haven’t been completely honest about how you are using their information.”

The recent Privacy Notices guidance launch reinforces the message set out in Elizabeth Denham’s first speech as UK Information Commissioner last week that transparency and trust are essential to reputation and innovation in business.

The code of practice is the first piece of guidance published by the ICO that has been written to explain how to comply with both the existing Data Protection Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). EU countries must comply with the GDPR from 25 May 2018.

A blog by Jo Pedder which discusses privacy notices has been published recently.

Notes for Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

  3. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.

  4. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:

    • fairly and lawfully processed;
    • processed for limited purposes;
    • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
    • accurate and up to date;
    • not kept for longer than is necessary;
    • processed in line with your rights;
    • secure; and
    • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  5. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:

    • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
    • cookies (and similar technologies);
    • keeping communications services secure; and
    • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.

  1. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.

  2. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

  3. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go


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