IOM: Data Protection Day 2016

IOM today (28/1) marks Data Protection Day, as one of the first international organizations to have taken significant steps to ensure data security in recent years. IOM handles the personal data of hundreds of thousands of people on a regular basis.

For example, IOM’s Human Trafficking Database alone hosts data of more than 45,000 cases and personal data from around 5,000 to 6,000 victims of human trafficking are collected annually.

Registrations are also done in countries around the world, particularly for the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), which in 2015 registered over 200,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo and over 750,000 in South Sudan.

Aware of the importance of handling such data in a responsible way, respecting beneficiaries’ rights and bearing in mind IOM’s interests, the organization issued its Data Protection Principles in May 2009, which were further elaborated in its Data Protection Manual.

With this policy, IOM seeks to provide institutional safeguards in line with international law and best standards for handling personal data of IOM beneficiaries, providing a framework for the collection, use, storage, disclosure and disposal of personal data.

The objective of the Principles and the Manual is to respect privacy of IOM’s beneficiaries, meet their expectations in terms of handling of their personal data, protect the integrity and confidentiality of their personal data and prevent unnecessary and inappropriate disclosure.

At an organizational level, the Principles aim to provide comprehensive institutional safeguards for the handling of personal data, and enhance understanding of core concepts and international data protection standards.

Nowadays, considering the huge and continuous flow of personal data and the risks this can entail for the persons concerned, as well as to the organization itself, ensuring appropriate safeguards to protect the data is a must. IOM is committed to further strengthening its data protection policy. This will benefit the organization and its beneficiaries.

By having a sound policy on data protection, IOM’s reputation and credibility among beneficiaries, Member States, donors and other partners can be reinforced. Consolidating IOM’s commitment toward the protection of personal data and the responsible handling of non-personal data allows building trust towards the organization, which will be essential to strengthen IOM’s relationships with its various internal and external stakeholders.

For IOM’s beneficiaries, strengthening IOM’s data protection policy will contribute to preventing inappropriate disclose of their personal data and risks derived from it, as well as protecting the integrity and confidentiality of their information.

With its comprehensive data protection policy, IOM stands at the forefront of data protection among international organizations. Today, on Data Protection Day, IOM celebrates and reiterates its commitment to maintaining high standards in data protection.