From TalkTalk to VTech, it seems none of us are immune from cyber-attacks and personal data losses. It’s a problem for all those concerned whichever end of the breach you’re on; a customer whose details have been lost or a CEO facing the fact that your customers’ data is no longer secure. As a charity that wants to make IT good for society, we feel very strongly that there has to be a better way.

And so to try to change the status quo, we’ve decided to try to tackle the problem and have launched the consultative stage of our personal data challenge. We can’t fix this on our own, but we can if we work together, so we want to encourage individuals and organisations to come together and shape the future of data sharing.

Why is this important? Quite simply, we don’t feel that personal data is working for anyone and it would seem that we’re not the only ones who have concerns. Our recent YouGov survey showed 64 per cent of adults said that they aren’t really happy with the way companies collect and use data about them, but they don't feel there's much they can do about it, compared to only 26 per cent who say that they understand that companies need to collect data about them in order to provide them with services, and overall are happy with how it works.

Additionally, 89 per cent of adults online think they should be able to control what data a company collects about them online, and what it uses this data for.

These figures reinforce the need for change. We want to put people in control and empower businesses to use data in more beneficial ways, underpinned by trust and trustworthiness.

You can help us achieve this. Take some time to look at and give us your feedback on the consultation paper we’ve produced that proposes three essential personal data principles: safety, integration and relationships.

Safety means that individuals and organisations should be able to safely share and use personal data without fear or anxiety. We want to work together to minimise the risks and impacts and increase public confidence in personal data handling.

Integration concerns the power of integrating, linking and reusing personal data. We want common currency; technical and legal systems to unlock the power and utility we know is possible when personal data is aggregated around individuals and organisations.

Finally, relationships - an ambition that personal data terms of use should be a conversation not an ultimatum. We want to facilitate a real two-way balanced relationship between individuals and companies around personal data that leads to maximum mutual benefit.

Personal data needs to be put under individual control, with individuals enabled to set their own privacy and sharing preferences in any data exchange.

Tell us what you think and help shape the future of personal data www.bcs.org/personaldata

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About the author
Paul Fletcher is the Group Chief Executive Officer of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. Paul joined BCS in 2014 after ten years at RM Education where he was Group Managing Director of the Education Technology Division. Prior to RM, Paul held senior management consultancy roles with A.T. Kearney and KPMG. He started his career in the Aerospace Industry. Paul is passionate about the role of IT in education and society as a whole.

See all posts by Paul Fletcher

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