One of our most important and enjoyable roles at the Information Commissioner’s Office is meeting and engaging with our stakeholders. It allows us to work together, learn from each other and raise awareness of information rights and organisational responsibilities.
To that end, the ICO’s Wales office hosted a number of public workshops designed to give organisations with little or no knowledge of the Data Protection Act a solid understanding of their basic obligations under the legislation. In particular we focused on how to keep personal information secure, and how to share it safely and securely with other organisations. While the workshops could be attended by anyone, they were particularly targeted at smaller organisations, such as those in the voluntary sector.
We identified six locations across Wales: Cardiff, Llandarcy, St Clear’s, Aberystwyth, Llandudno and Mold and sent out invites through a variety of channels, including Welsh voluntary organisation umbrella bodies.
The response was overwhelming. All the places were booked with two weeks and we had to add an extra Cardiff workshop to keep up with demand. We also had a pleasing cross section of organisations expressing interest including national and local charities, private companies, housing associations, local authorities and GP practices.
After explaining the role of the ICO, the workshops explored what personal data is and what the eight data protection principles mean in practical terms. We discussed what constitutes good (and bad) data handling practice from the experience gleaned from ICO audits, and we outlined to those present how the Wales Accord for Sharing Personal Information (WASPI) – Wales’ information sharing framework – can help organisations when they are regularly sharing information with each other.
Small group discussions then focused on common issues faced by organisations, in particular around information security and information sharing.
ICO guidance covers a number of the topics discussed, and attendees were pointed in the direction of the following:
What is personal data?
On the surface it sounds like a simple concept but what is exactly covered by the DPA can sometimes be confusing.
What is personal data? – A quick reference guide (PDF)
The Wales Accord for Sharing Personal Information (WASPI)
The Welsh Government is supporting this initiative which aims to make sure public and third sector services in Wales share personal information legally and safely.
The ICO will be taking forward our findings and running a series of free workshops in England this year aimed at small-to-medium-sized enterprises. You find out more here if you would like to attend. They’re a great opportunity to meet us, learn helpful information and share your views.
Last updated 16/04/2014 14:00
|Anne Jones leads our Wales office. Anne joined the ICO in 2003, with a background in libraries, information and IT. She is a graduate of Aberystwyth and Bristol universities, and prior to this role her career was in the higher education, local authority and private sectors.|