Data Security Classification of the Icelandic Government

Author: Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Government of Iceland

The document details the framework for classifying and securing data within the Icelandic government. It aims to enhance data utilisation efficiency and ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and both national and international obligations.

Key Sections

  1. Introduction:
    • Emphasises the need for standardised data classification across Icelandic public administration to ensure consistent and effective data protection.
  2. Purpose:
    • Establish systematic and uniform data handling procedures based on the value and risk associated with the data.
  3. Scope:
    • Applies to all data created, stored, processed, or accessed by public authorities, including data shared with third parties.
  4. Principles:
    • All data has value and must be treated with appropriate security measures.
    • Data should be open and accessible unless there are justified reasons for restrictions.
    • Access controls must be based on the principle of least privilege.
    • All handlers of government data must be properly trained in data security.
  5. Emphases:
    • Open Data: Data should be accessible unless specifically restricted.
    • Data Security: Security measures must be commensurate with the potential impact of data breaches.
    • Systematic Classification: Data must be classified based on defined criteria to ensure proper security measures.
    • Clear Consequences: The implications of data classification must be well-defined and understood.
  6. Roles and Responsibilities:
    • Data Custodian: Responsible for the classification and management of data.
    • Data Stewards: Handle daily data operations under the guidance of the data custodian.
    • Data Users: Must adhere to data handling and security policies.
  7. Data Security Classification:
    • Data is categorised into four classes: Open Data, Protected Data, Special Protected Data, and Restricted Data.
    • Each class has specific security requirements based on the potential impact of data breaches.
  8. Handling and Security Measures:
    • Detailed guidelines on how to handle, store, and protect data based on its classification.
    • Recommendations include encryption, access controls, and audit logs.
  9. Legal and Regulatory Compliance:
    • Ensures alignment with national laws on public records, privacy, and information security.
    • Includes references to specific legislation like the Public Archives Act and the Data Protection Act.
  10. Next Steps:
    • Ongoing review and updates to the classification framework based on feedback and evolving security needs.


The document serves as a comprehensive guide for the Icelandic government to systematically classify and secure its data, ensuring efficient utilisation and robust protection against unauthorised access and breaches. It underscores the importance of clear roles, responsibilities, and adherence to legal requirements in maintaining data security.