Our Data in our Hands

On Monday 9th April, the Information Commissioner’s Office (the UK Regulator for Data Protection) hosted a conference attended by many professionals who work in Data Protection and are responsible for safeguarding personal information.

The keynote speaker was Elizabeth Denham who is the UK Information Commissioner.  Her job is to enforce the new Data Protection act in the UK which includes The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when it becomes enforceable law on 25th May 2018.  In her speech she talked extensively about the value of the data that we hold in our hands every day:

“So let me tell you this as someone who has worked in the field of data protection for over 20 years: there has never been a more important time to be involved in data protection.

The work we do – that you do – to ensure that organisations are fair, transparent and accountable and that they earn the trust and confidence of their customers, clients or citizens is important.”

She went on to add:

“Now, more than ever, your role of data protection practitioner is not just as a guardian of privacy but as an ambassador for the appropriate use of personal data in line with the law.

Ultimately it is up to regulators to take action against those that disregard the law. But you all have a role to play in advocating the correct use of personal data in a world where it powers so much of what makes our economy, our home life, and our public services function.”

It is important to remember that the GDPR puts people at the centre. It gives them strengthened rights and more choices about how their data is used, stored and shared.  These rights apply to everyone – staff, citizens and patients.  At the conference, the ICO launched a new campaign called ‘Your data matters’.  This was designed in conjunction with experts from both the public and private sector to explain the key messages about the data reforms to the UK public at large.

Here are some golden rules to help you to keep your own personal information secure at home and at work:

Be wary of impersonators

Make sure you know who you are really talking to. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, via email or over the Internet he person to whom you are giving it to is genuine.

Dispose of Personal Information Safely

Before you dispose of a computer, tablet or mobile device, get rid of all the personal information it stores. Use a suitable program to overwrite the entire hard drive or send it for secure recycling.

Consider Encrypting Your Data

Keep your browser secure. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.

Keep Passwords Strong and Private

Use strong passwords to guard both your devices (like your laptop) and your accounts online. Be creative: think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters. For example, “I want to go to Greece next year” could become Iwtg2G2019

Don’t Overshare on Social Networking Sites

Identity thieves look for information posted online. For example, they may post quizzes on Facebook that invite you to share your pet’s name because many people use the name of their dog or cat as part of their password.   To be safe, review the privacy settings on your social media accounts regularly and don’t post any information relating to your bank accounts, passports, NI number that could be used fraudulently to fake your identify.