ICO publishes anonymisation code

The Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) new Anonymisation Code of Practice aims to manage the risks involved with publishing large datasets as per the government’s open data agenda. However, the code will help all organisations that need to anonymise personal data, for whatever purpose.

While 100% anonymisation is the most desirable position, this is not what is required by the DP Act, the ICO says. Some of the current challenges are posed by ‘re-identification’.

Announcing the code's publication, Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, said that he believes it is the first code of practice on anonymisation to be published by any European Data Protection Authority.

"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,” Graham said.

A consortium led by the University of Manchester, with the University of Southampton, the Office for National Statistics and the government's new Open Data Institute (ODI), will run a new UK Anonymisation Network (UKAN), which will enable the sharing of good practice related to anonymisation.

The code was published on 20 November.