ICO unveils Personal Information Promise for businesses

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has unveiled a new imitative to promote safer handling of data, with the support of Royal Mail, BT and British Gas.

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The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has unveiled a new imitative to promote safer handling of data, with the support of Royal Mail, BT and British Gas.

The three companies are among the major organisations that have signed up to the personal information promise, a set of ten principles to safeguard the use of information, consumers' privacy and pledge to keep details stored on customers to a minimum.

The voluntary charter, which was launched by the ICO on the third annual European Data Protection Day, aims to ease citizens' fears over companies and organisations misusing their personal information.

It allows businesses and government departments to "demonstrate their organisation's senior level commitment to data protection".

Information commissioner Richard Thomas said: "Organisations are waking up to the fact that privacy is now so significant that lapses risk reputations and bottom line."

Thomas called on chief executives to "hardwire" people protection into organisational governances.

Other organisations that have signed the charter include T-Mobile, charity group Action for Children, credit rating agencies Experian, Equifax and Call Credit UK, Astra Zeneca, Greater Manchester Police and union body Unison.

The Council of Europe designated 28 January, 2007 as the first day devoted to spotlighting privacy and protection issues. It is not an annual event and last year, Canada and the United States joined the date. The day is usually marked by efforts to educate and make people users aware of the best way to protect their information online.

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