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ICO: There is ‘room for improvement’ on data protection by charities

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has told charities that “there is room for improvement” in the way they manage data as the regulator releases a report on the findings of its advisory visits to charities in the last year.

In 2012/13 the ICO carried out 32 advisory visits at charitable organisations. Victoria Heath, group manager good practice, wrote on the Information Commission’s blog that: “Encouragingly, a third of the charities we visited had good access controls in place, which made sure that IT systems containing personal data were only accessible to those that actually needed to use the information.”

But added: “However, there is also room for improvement. For example over half of the charities we visited had no retention schedule explaining when data should be destroyed.”

The report identifies other areas of good practice including providing information to customers in the form of fair processing notices, having good physical and building security and confidential waste procedures.

It also noted an number of other areas where the sector could improve, such as having a process to regularly weed personal data held in manual records, disabling USB ports and CD drives so that data cannot be removed, implementing minimum requirements for password complexity, and having a remote-working procedure.

The ICO announced last August that it would offer small and medium-sized organisations free one-day advisory visits to improve data protection practices. It has also published reports into the seven visits carried out at credit unions and 33 visits to community support services. More detailed information on individual visits (where the organisation has consented to its publication) is available on the ICO’s website.

There is further advice and guidance on the ICO's website and in April this year Charity Finance Group launched a data protection guide for charities.


This article was taken from Civil Society – http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/it/news/content/15376/