The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has begun a public consultation on how to successfully anonymise data for a new anonymisation code of practice.
The ICO has also launched a tendering process to establish a network of experts to share best practice around the release of data in an anonymised form.
Anonymisation techniques convert personal data so that individuals are no longer identifiable. The consultation will be relevant to any organisation that wants to release anonymised data, for example under the government’s open data agenda.
Christopher Graham, information commissioner, said: “The UK is putting more and more valuable data into the public domain. The open data agenda will see this process continue and I welcome the power this information gives the average UK citizen to understand how the public sector operates and hold organisations to account."
But, he added: “However, while the public wants to see openness, they want to see their privacy rights respected too. The risks of anonymisation can sometimes be underestimated and in other cases overstated. Organisations need to be aware of what those risks are and take a structured approach to assessing them."
The consultation on a draft code will close on 23 August 2012. A final version will appear in September.
The ICO is also tendering out a £15,000 award to create, develop and support a professional network for sharing expertise concerning anonymisation techniques and data release.
Earlier this month the ICO sent a letter of warning to 75 of the UK’s most popular websites asking for them to prove within 28 days how they are moving towards compliance with the EU’s new cookie law.