$0The British Computer Society (BCS) and Information Security Awareness Forum (ISAF) have launched the personal data guardianship code.

Working on five key principles; accountability, visibility, consent, access and stewardship, the intention is to instruct and offer constructive guidance on data protection. The BCS claim that the code 'identifies the principles and responsibilities on which best practice is based.

Speaking at the launch, BSC deputy president Elizabeth Sparrow claimed that after weeks of revelations regarding MP's expense claims, it was easy to forget how things were a year ago when there was 'such alarm and concern over the loss of data'.

Sparrow said: “The British public are highly aware and highly mistrustful of those that hold their personal information and the awareness of data protection is high, in a recent survey only 50 per cent knew what it meant while 90 per cent had heard of it.”

She further claimed that one of the key intentions of the code was an aim to change the culture in government towards the impact it will have on citizens, to raise awareness and create a code to give practical help in guiding principles.

Louise Bennett, BCS chair of the security forum strategic panel, claimed that it was the view of the society that every organisation should have specific rules and procedures to protect data.

“This is to ensure that good guardianship comes about through good practice and how principles apply to the personal data lifespan. We want everyone to adopt best practice in this area, and we hope the code will help people to change their behaviour”, said Bennett.

“Once data is held electronically, easy for it to be used and reused, and abused. We hope this creates a culture where protecting data is second nature.

Hilary Newiss, intellectual property lawyer and member of the national information governance board, said that the code would be of interest to small and medium businesses who don't have a data protection guide for information security, and said that it was 'a very good tool that could harmonise data management across government.