The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) signalled its commitment to approving third-party “privacy seal” schemes following its recent public consultation. The first UK schemes should be operational by 2016.

The consultation comes in anticipation of the European Commission’s revised data protection framework proposals, which may include provisions intended to encourage the adoption of privacy seals, certification mechanisms and trust marks. It is hoped that privacy certification will establish confidence among consumers around personal data handling.

The ICO has issued a proposed framework and guidelines for organisations wishing to be approved as providers of a privacy seal scheme, including that providers must be an independent body accredited by the UK Accreditation Service.

Privacy seals are already available at the European level, and in France, Germany and Japan.