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Managing the risks of anonymisation.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today published its data protection code of practice on managing the risks related to anonymisation. The code explains how to protect the privacy rights of individuals while providing rich sources of data.

The code comes at a time when the UK is putting more and more anonymised data into the public domain, with the government’s open data agenda allowing us to find out more than ever about the performance of public services and holding public bodies to account.

Announcing the publication of today’s code of practice Christopher Graham, UK Information Commissioner, said:

“We have published our code of practice on managing the data protection risks related to anonymisation to provide a framework for practitioners to use when considering whether to produce anonymised information. The code also aims to bring a greater consistency of approach and to show what we expect of organisations using this data.

“Failure to anonymise personal data correctly can result in enforcement action from the ICO. However we recognise that anonymised data can have important benefits, increasing the transparency of government and aiding the UK’s widely regarded research community.

“We hope today’s guidance helps practitioners to protect privacy and enable the use of data in exciting and innovative ways. We would also like to thank those people who took part in our recent consultation and helped today’s code of practice become a reality.”

The ICO has also announced that a consortium led by the University of Manchester, with the University of Southampton, Office for National Statistics and the government’s new Open Data Institute (ODI), will run a new UK Anonymisation Network (UKAN). The Network will receive £15,000 worth of funding from the ICO over the next two years to enable sharing of good practice related to anonymisation, across the public and private sector. The network will include a website, case studies, clinics and seminars.