What are privacy seals?

A privacy seal is a ‘stamp of approval’ which demonstrates good privacy practice and high data protection compliance standards. It will work much like the British Standard Institute’s Kitemark symbol, which is displayed on numerous products and services within the UK to demonstrate quality and high standards.

What are the benefits of my organisation having an ICO privacy seal?   

A recent ICO survey found that four out of five people approve of the introduction of such a symbol – showing that privacy and information rights are becoming increasingly important to individuals.

The presence of a seal will highlight how your organisation is going the extra mile to look after people’s information. A privacy seal will help your organisation build consumer trust and choice, potentially giving you an advantage over your competitors. A privacy seal will also raise the bar for privacy standards across the UK and will help protect personal information.

It’s accepted internationally that privacy seals and trust marks are likely to become leading privacy compliance tools and the introduction of such seals is included in the European Commission’s draft proposals for data protection reform.    

How will the ICO privacy seal work?

The ICO will endorse third parties to deliver ICO privacy seal schemes. We envisage that there will be a number of scheme operators running schemes focusing on different sectors, processes, products or areas of compliance.

It will be for potential scheme operators to decide on what area they wish the scheme to focus on. Once ICO endorsed, the scheme operators will be responsible for the day to day running of the scheme. 

Once schemes are up and running, organisations will be able to apply to the relevant provider for an ICO privacy seal scheme. If you are able to demonstrate that your organisation meets the operator’s assessment criteria and in doing so demonstrate that you are meeting the highest data protection standards then your organisation will be awarded an ICO privacy seal. Once awarded, your organisation can use the seal externally to show how you are adopting best practice when it comes to looking after people’s information. You will be able to continue using the ICO privacy seal as long as you can demonstrate that your organisation is maintaining these high standards.

When will the ICO privacy seal be available?

The ICO aims to have its privacy seal up and running in 2016. Organisations will then be able to apply to scheme operators for certification.

Further reading

You can find out more about the development of the ICO privacy seal in the ICO’s blog post ‘What you need to know about ICO Privacy Seals’. Further updates will be provided on the ICO website and in the ICO e-newsletter.