Comment

21.04.17

A modern law for an increasingly digital world

Source: PSE Apr/May 17

From May 2018, a new piece of data protection legislation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will apply in the UK. Ian Inman, group manager for public services at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), outlines changes needed in the public sector and how the regulator can help.

Social service care records, contact details of housing tenants and CCTV images from a council leisure centre all contain personal details. And all organisations in the public sector are required by law to look after that personal information.

Failure to do so can cause a whole range of negative outcomes, distress for both the person whose personal data has been disclosed and the staff member who disclosed it, reputational damage for the authority concerned and a possible fine from the ICO. 

The ICO is the independent UK regulator enforcing the laws that govern privacy. Whilst we’re not afraid to use our enforcement powers when we feel it’s needed, our main aim is to help organisations get it right when it comes to using personal data – and that includes preparing for new legislation coming into force next year. 

A modern law for a digital world 

In May 2018, there will be new data protection legislation, which will apply both here in the UK and across the EU. The GDPR builds on the previous data protection legislation, but provides more protections for consumers, and more privacy considerations for organisations. It brings a more 21st century approach to the processing of personal data – a modern law for an increasingly digital world. 

Arguably the biggest change under GDPR is around accountability. The new legislation creates an obligation for organisations to understand the risks that they create for others, and to mitigate those risks. This means working on a framework that builds a culture of data protection that pervades an entire local authority or government department. 

All organisations – be they public sector, small businesses or multimillion-pound companies – need to get ready for GDPR. When it comes to public services, though, a recent ICO survey aimed at local authorities highlighted that, whilst there is good practice out there, many councils have work to do to prepare for the new legislation. 

The GDPR mandates organisations to put in place comprehensive but proportionate governance measures. That means adopting practices such as a privacy-by-design approach to projects. 

Important findings 

One of the important findings from our survey results was that although most councils carry out privacy impact assessments (PIAs), 34% do not. That will need to change. GDPR makes it a legal requirement for local authorities to conduct PIAs in certain circumstances. 

Councils will benefit from producing their own PIA process and accompanying guidance to ensure privacy issues are considered as part of projects. 

A quarter of councils also told us they don’t have a data protection officer. Under GDPR the role of data protection officer is required in all public authorities. 

ICO 12-step plan 

The ICO is committed to helping organisations across the public sector adapt to meet the requirements of GDPR, such as PIAs and data protection officers. 

A good place to start is the ICO’s 12-step plan to help organisations prepare for the GDPR. Available through our website, it sets out advice on making sure key decision-makers know the law around personal information is changing, documenting the information the business holds and reviewing privacy notices.

If you already have some knowledge of GDPR and our 12 steps, I encourage you to read our ‘Overview of the GDPR’ document, which highlights the key themes of the new legislation, pointing to the similarities with the Data Protection Act, and explaining some of the new and different requirements. 

We are developing the overview as a living document, adding content on different points as more guidance is produced by us and our equivalent regulators in Europe. It’s worth adding the page to your favourites so that you can check regularly for updates, which will be clearly flagged in the ‘what’s new’ section. Where we are working on guidance, or when we are planning events or consultations on a particular issue during the year, we will flag these in the overview too. 

Other guidance on the ICO website well worth a read for those in the public sector includes our Privacy Impact Assessment Code of Practice, which will be reissued for GDPR in due course. And our website also includes a blog looking in more detail at the results from the local government survey discussed earlier in this piece. 

983 computer security

The culture change challenge 

Of course, changing the culture of an organisation isn’t an easy thing to do, but the ICO will be there to help along the way. 

Staff training will be at the heart of that change. Our survey found 18% of councils do not have mandatory data protection training for employees processing personal data. Staff not knowing what they need to about data protection is behind many of the security incidents our enforcement team sees in the local government sector. All the guidance on our website can be used for training, including our dedicated training resource area.

 It is vital staff keep data protection in mind and that will be the case more than ever when GDPR comes into force. Don’t forget to train temporary staff and provide regular refresher training.

Public sector staff may ask, or be asked – as we often are — what happens when the UK leaves the EU. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of GDPR. 

It is possible that in the years after the UK leaves the EU, Parliament will debate amending the requirements of the GDPR. If that happens, we will be at the centre of any conversations around this, and will be banging our drum for continued protection and rights for consumers and clear laws for organisations. We’ll still need strong data protection laws for that so we don’t see the rules being loosened. 

Preparing for GDPR must not be put off. It’s happening and that means changes to how the public sector does things. 

And finally, a quick plug for our e-newsletter. It will give you regular updates on the guidance we’re publishing, the webinars we’re hosting and the work we’re doing, as well as serving as a monthly reminder of the need to prepare for GDPR.

For more information

W: www.ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-reform/overview-of-the-gdpr

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Core Cities leaders press for domestic post-Brexit agenda after meeting with Barnier

23/02/2018Core Cities leaders press for domestic post-Brexit agenda after meeting with Barnier

Leaders and mayors representing Core Cities UK have met with the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier this week. The Brussels meeting saw leaders ... more >
DHSC seeks views on addressing care workforce challenges

23/02/2018DHSC seeks views on addressing care workforce challenges

A consultation focusing on the adult social care workforce has been launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), in partnership wit... more >
An unsettling finance settlement?

23/02/2018An unsettling finance settlement?

Piali Das Gupta, head of policy at Solace, looks over the final local government finance settlement and argues that it does not do enough to supp... more >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

Whole of government must act together to fulfil the ambition of the Industrial Strategy

11/12/2017Whole of government must act together to fulfil the ambition of the Industrial Strategy

Jen Rae, head of innovation policy at Nesta, says the aims in the government’s new Industrial Strategy are ambitious, but will require a shift in policymaking in order to be realised in full. Last Monday saw the long-awaited launch of the UK’s new Industrial Strategy, the government’s plan for prosperity and growth in a ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

interviews

BIM: Digitising the public sector

19/02/2018BIM: Digitising the public sector

PSE’s Josh Mines talks to Stephen Crompton, CTO at GroupBC, and Stuart Bell, the company’s sales and marketing director, about how Bu... more >
Duncan Selbie: The energy of devolution

19/02/2018Duncan Selbie: The energy of devolution

The NHS plays a part in keeping the country well – but when it comes to places and their people, local government has a major role to fulfi... more >
Are we taking a risk on education?

14/12/2017Are we taking a risk on education?

Adrian Prandle, director of economic strategy and negotiations at the National Education Union (NEU), questions the stark lack of announcements a... more >
A fantastic opportunity awaits you

11/12/2017A fantastic opportunity awaits you

Eight months on from the government’s announcement of major training reforms, Anne Milton, minister for apprenticeships and skills at the D... more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

public sector focus

How can cost-conscious organisations benefit from an imaginative provider?

22/01/2018How can cost-conscious organisations benefit from an imaginative provider?

Advertisement feature Rafael Cortes, hea... more >
Driving inclusive growth in the West Midlands

14/12/2017Driving inclusive growth in the West Midlands

PSE’s Josh Mines reports from the Socia... more >