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Data privacy day

28 Jan 2020

Tips to avoid sending personal data to the wrong people

Woman typing on a laptop

Today, Tuesday, 28 January marks Data Privacy Day. This is a good time to remind you of the importance of being careful when sending emails containing personal data, in particular, special category data. 

Special category data refers to a person's: race, ethnic origin, politics, religion, trade union membership, genetics, giometrics (if used for ID purposes), health, sex life or sexual orientation. It's more sensitive, so needs more protection. 

The majority of the personal data incidents at the University involve staff accidently sending information to the wrong people, attaching the wrong email or including excessive personal data in the body of the email. 

Here are some simple steps to help prevent things going wrong:

  • Double check the addresses before hitting send and look closely at the Global Address List on Outlook for similar names. 
  • Beware of the autocomplete function in Outlook. If you often send a lot of sensitive data you can disable autocomplete in Outlook by clicking on File > Options. In the Outlook Options dialog box, click the Mail in the left bar, then scroll down and untick the ‘Use Auto-Complete List to suggest names when typing in the To, Cc, and Bcc lines’ box in the Send messages section.
  • Use the Bcc field when you’re sending information to groups of people (particularly external individuals) that do not need to know each other’s email addresses. Remember, their email address is personal data.  
  • Check that any records management systems or distribution lists you use have the most up to date personal data or contact information in them.
  • Don’t forget to scroll down an email if you’re forwarding information, to help prevent sending excessive personal data inadvertently. 
  • If you’re sending an attachment, open it before you send the email to ensure it’s the correct version. 
  • If you use an iPhone or iPad for work, there’s a mail setting that can be used to mark external addresses in red. Go to Settings>Mail>Mark Addresses – then type in @manchester.ac.uk 

More information