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InfoLawUpdate - Data Protection Challenges for Fostering and Adoption Agencies

Burnetts' information law solicitor Natalie Ruane comments on the latest information law developments.

Data Protection Challenges for Fostering and Adoption Agencies

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a report highlighting the difficulties facing independent fostering and adoption agencies when they are processing sensitive personal information.

Independent fostering and adoption agencies process high amounts of sensitive personal information relating to the care and wellbeing of vulnerable children. These agencies subsequently then have to share this information with local authorities, adding extra complications.

The ICO found several problems with how the agencies process and then share sensitive information. Most notably, the ICO is concerned with the insecure transfer between agencies and local authorities and between carers and agencies. The ICO was also concerned with the lack of staff training and guidance given to carers together with the failure to encrypt personal information on devices such as laptops, memory cards and mobile phones (click here to see our previous article on the prosecution of a local authority over sensitive information of hundreds of children being lost).

Although the vast majority of the report highlighted potential improvements there were some positive aspects. The ICO stated that most agencies had adequate system access controls so that sensitive information can only be accessed by those authorised to do so.

Over the coming months all the agencies will be working with the ICO to address the issues raised in the report and help them to produce an improved and updated guidance for the sector.

About the author

Natalie Ruane profile photo

Natalie Ruane

Natalie is a Partner and leads the Employment Law & HR team and specialises in education.

Published: Tuesday 11th March 2014
Categorised: Information Law

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