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Is Government Abusing Personal Information?

Creation of a new 'Fair Data' logo is meant to help protect personal data from misuse.

Consumers wary of doling out personal information online can soon start looking for a "Fair Data" designation on their favorite websites.

On January 28, designated Data Privacy Day, a new benchmark was announced for the treatment of personal information. The Market Research Society (MRS), a U.K.-based research and business intelligence organization, has laid out a set of 10 principles that would earn an organization the distinction of using the Fair Data logo.

According to, organizations that wish to display the logo must get explicit consent for any data they collect, impose data security, use data exclusively in the manner specified and grant consumers access to any data it holds. Third parties that could potentially access the data must meet these same requirements.

Given the recent large-scale data breaches in the public sector, including those in South Carolina and Utah, it remains to be seen whether government agencies will see value in adopting the principles of Fair Data. A complete list of the principles is available here (PDF).

"We believe that there is a real need to help the public identify with whom they can trust their data," said Jane Frost, MRS chief executive. "Public concern is at an all-time high, and we are getting increasing numbers of complaints about data use."

According to the MRS, the Fair Data program integrates with similar efforts in the United States.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Noelle Knell has been the editor of Government Technology magazine for e.Republic since 2015. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.