The public has woken up to the potential of their personal data, the Information Commissioner has said on publication of the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) Annual Report for 2018-2019. Elizabeth Denham also stated that the document covers an “unprecedented year” for the regulator.
Denham continued: “The ICO has covered an enormous amount of ground over the last year, from the introduction of a new data protection law through to our calls to change the freedom of information law, and from record-setting fines to a record number of people raising data protection concerns.”
The Information Commissioner added: “The biggest moment of the year was the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force. This saw people wake up to the potential of their personal data, leading to greater awareness of the role of the regulator when data rights are not being respected. The doubling of concerns raised with our office reflects that.”
Highlights from the 12 months to 31 March 2019 include:
Helping the public and organisations
*The ICO’s Helpline, chat and written advice services received 471,224 contacts in 2018-2019, representing a 66% increase from 2017-2018 (283,727 contacts)
*Data protection complaints received by the ICO increased from 21,019 in 2017-2018 to 41,661 in 2018-2019
*Supporting the public through the ICO’s many expanded public-facing services (ie the Helpline and live text service)
*Helping organisations, small or large, embed the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018
*Preparation of statutory codes focusing on age-appropriate design, data sharing, direct marketing and data protection and journalism
Enforcing the law
*Using new powers of inspection – issuing 11 assessment notices in conjunction with investigations into data analytics for political purposes, political parties, data brokers, credit reference agencies and others
*Taking action through enforcement notices
*Issuing warnings and reprimands across a range of sectors including health, central Government, criminal justice, education, retail and finance
*2018-2019 was a record-breaking year of monetary penalties under the Data Protection Act 1998
In May 2017, the ICO launched a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes after allegations were made about the ‘invisible processing’ of personal data and the micro-targeting of political adverts during the 2016 EU Referendum. The investigation eventually broadened and has become the largest investigation of its type by any data protection authority.
The investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes was not the ICO’s only major investigation during 2018-2019. The organisation also devoted considerable resources to wide-ranging investigations led by its new High Priority Investigations and Intelligence Directorate.