Cloud Industry Forum welcomes ICO code of practice on online information

The Cloud Industry Forum has welcomed the launch of the ‘personal information online code of practice' by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

It claimed that the part of the code of practice designed to help small businesses query cloud providers on how they protect data in their care, it is needed now more than ever.

Launching the code last week, information commissioner Christopher Graham appealed to businesses, charities and public bodies to be straight with consumers so that people know why their personal information is being collected, how it will be used and who else may end up seeing it.

He said: “The benefits of the internet age are clear: the chance to make more contacts, quicker transactions and greater convenience. But there are risks too. A record of our online activity can reveal our most personal interests. Get privacy right and you will retain the trust and confidence of your customers and users; mislead consumers or collect information you don't need and you are likely to diminish customer trust and face enforcement action from the ICO.”

The code of practice addresses how the Data Protection Act applies to information processed online, including how a company should operate internationally. Among its advice is guidance for businesses to ensure they have a written contract for cloud services, which should stipulate that the same level of data security be applied to outsourced data as is maintained internally.

In addition, it contains advice on how to collect personal details through an online application form, the use of cookies to target content and the use of data to market to individuals.

Andy Burton, chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum, said that it has been arguing for some time that companies who use online services need a straightforward code of practice to accurately and simply define the services offered.

He said: “What is needed now is an objective, clearly understood approach to the concept of cloud computing that will explain how it will impact business, how it can be used with existing investments in on-premise technology, and aid understanding of the issues that are important to understand in determining which supplier can offer the best solution for a particular business need.

“We intend to drive the debate to ensure that cloud providers work together to ensure that challenges to cloud adoption – such as security, integration, portability, interoperability, governance and management – are addressed in an industry-wide code of practice that will support the ICO initiative.”

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