ICO requires” stronger powers” and” a clearer guarantee of independence”

Posted On 24 May 2014
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UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has warned it has never been more important that the general public has an independent regulator overseeing the handling of people’s personal data. Speaking at the launch of the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) Annual Report, Christopher Graham highlighted how the troubled launch of care.data, Facebook’s research and the so-called Google ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling show why there’s a need to have an independent regulator. Graham also warned that independence relies on strong powers and sustainable funding. The Annual Report shows that the ICO has responded to a record number of data protection and Freedom of Information complaints in the last 12 months. Sometimes the State is the issue ” Facebook, care.data, Google: it’s clear that organisations’ use of data is becoming ever more complicated,” stressed Graham.” People need to know someone is watching over their information. That someone needs to be independent of Government and business so the public knows the regulator can be trusted. Sometimes the State is itself the issue. When the Intelligence and Security Committee wanted to know how the Snowden revelations fitted with data protection law, it turned to the Information Commissioner.” Graham added:” Independence means someone who has the resources to take on this ever-growing number of cases. The last twelve months have witnessed a record” more complaints resolved than ever, more enforcement action taken and more advice given through our Helpline. It also means having the powers to act on the more serious complaints. A strong regulator is needed if a data breach affects millions of people.” In conclusion, the Information Commissioner explained:” That someone is the Information Commissioner. We’re effective, efficient and busier than ever but, to do our job properly and to represent people in the best way possible, we need stronger powers, more sustainable funding and a clearer guarantee of independence.” The report’s figures in detail This year’s Annual Report shows that the ICO has handled 259,903 calls to its Helpline and resolved 15,492 data protection complaints” in both cases a rise of over 10% on the previous financial year. The ICO has also decided on 5,296 Freedom of Information complaints (a 12% rise on last year’s figure), and received 161,720 reports from people concerned about spam texts and nuisance calls. For the past five years the ICO has faced a reduction in its funding for FOI, while the proposed EU Data Protection reforms would remove the notification fee that funds the ICO’s work under the Data Protection Act. The ICO’s written submission to the Intelligence and Security Committee (initiated last February) is now available. The Information Commissioner will appear before the Intelligence and Security Committee in the autumn.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.