ICO launches awareness blitz as NHS unveils opt-out tool

DataIQ News

The Information Commissioner's Office is using today's GDPR D-Day to officially launch its Your Data Matters awareness campaign, which aims to help consumers understand the changing data protection environment in a practical and straightforward way.

Although the ICO has insisted the initiative “is not really about GDPR”, the regulator is embracing the biggest shake up in data protection laws in a generation to try to get consumers on board.

The campaign is expected to run for at least three years, and aims to increase the public's trust and confidence in how their data is used and made available.

The ICO has collaborated with a range of public and private sector organisations - including Barclays, BBC, Boots, BT, Centrica, Comic Relief, DataIQ, Dell, EDF, Global, Jaguar LandRover, Royal Mail, RBS, Santander and Sainsbury’s - to produce publicity materials that can be used by anyone wanting to spread the message to their customers or clients.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: "Almost everything we do - keeping in touch with friends on social media, shopping online, exercising, driving, and even watching television - leaves a digital trail of personal data.

"We know that sharing our data safely and efficiently can make our lives easier, but that digital trail is valuable. It's important that it stays safe and is only used in ways that people would expect and can control."

The ICO has also launched a new Twitter account for the public, @YourDataMatters, to complement its @ICONews account, which has 63,500 followers.

Organisations wanting to pledge their support for their customers or service user's data rights can sign up to a public register. This will be a public demonstration of their support for people's data rights and carries the ICO logo.

The move coincides with the launch of a new NHS scheme, designed to allow patients to easily opt out of having their information shared.

The national data opt-out tool is as a response to national data guardian for health and care Fiona Caldicott’s recommendation of an eight-point consent model that would allow patients to make an informed decision on whether or not they want their data to be shared.

Launching today (May 25) the online tool will let patients decide if they want to give the NHS access for just their individual care, or allow their data to be shared for research and planning purposes.

Patients who do not want to use the online system - or do not have online access - can also opt-out via the telephone, or request a form which they can print and post.