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The Public Sector and Visual Privacy

The public sector is arguably one of the market sectors that most closely appreciates the need for visual privacy as part of overall security strategies and is acting accordingly.   Given how easy it is to overlook information on people’s screens – whether in the office or working on the move – this is welcome news for public sector employees and the UK’s citizens.

Take for example the Cabinet Office’s Security Policy Framework (SPF), which encompasses the requirements to protect UK government workers, information, infrastructure and assets.  When the SPF was updated in 2014, a section of physical security was included.  Significantly, the SPF recognises the need for a multi-layer approach to security:

‘Organisations will layer their security, including: screening or otherwise controlling access.’

This approach is in tune with other government bodies, who similarly are realising that security is multi-faceted and needs to cover physical security, including visual privacy.  For instance, the Department for Work and Pensions has previously stated:

“where risk assessments indicate that additional steps are required, these will include a range of measures, including for example, the use of privacy filters for portable computers, and restricting employee use of personal phones, during working time”.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is even more explicit and actually cites the use of privacy filters:

“If staff need to work remotely and view information that is sensitive, they must ensure that they cannot be overlooked. ‘Privacy screen panels’ are available to mitigate the risk of ‘shoulder surfing’. The need to ensure visual data security is considered as part of any office accommodation moves.”

A more rigorous approach to visual security has spread beyond central government.  In the education sector, compliance to the JCQ guidelines oblige schools and sixth form colleges to ensure candidate privacy during e-assessment (in other words ensuring that each candidate’s workstation is candidates’ workstations are not visible to anyone during exams).  Privacy filters are one of the simplest ways to ensure JCQ adherence, without the need to increase the space between desks, or create temporary barriers.  They are also a relatively low-cost, rapid and simple investment.

Of course, prevention of data breaches and leaks can take many forms, but since this is one area of security protection that is relatively simple to implement, visual privacy is rightly being given increased attention within the public sector.

For more information on how 3M Privacy Filters combat the threat of visual hacking while working in high traffic areas, or to request a sample please visit our website.

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