back to article Look out: That data protection watchdog can bite

Despite all the furores, calamities and Snowden-related shenanigans of recent years, the UK’s privacy watchdog remains something of a pussycat, and a lean one at that. Granted powers in April 2010 to fine firms £500,000 for breaches of the various laws it covers, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has flexed its mini- …

  1. Alexander Hanff 1

    ICO's past behaviour may not be indicative of the future

    One also needs to understand that under the new Regulation, it is highly likely the EU Commission will have the powers to intervene in situations where a DPA has not taken sufficient action in a case. This means that ICO are likely to take more action against the private sector than they have in the past, especially as they are probably the most complained about DPA in Europe.

    In my experience of the EC, at least one situation involving the ICO became the second largest public complaint issue the Commission had ever handled and it is certainly likely based on my ongoing work in this arena, that the situation has not improved.

    That said, even if ICO do not significantly increase their actions against the private sector, the Commission will soon be in a position to do something about it, directly. Therefore, it is advisable that the private sector start to take privacy and security matters more seriously - ICO may not be an ally they can hide behind for much longer.

    1. Vic

      Re: ICO's past behaviour may not be indicative of the future

      This means that ICO are likely to take more action

      Well that will make a nice change.

      A few years back, I handed them all the evidence they needed to prosecute a significant data breach - a company director had deliberately leaked data on that company's website in order to smear a rival.

      When the ICO finally got around to responding to me, they simply took said director's claims that he hadn't breached anyone's privacy at face value, and took no action.

      I'm not holding my breath for an improvement; they seem primarily interested in window-dressing.


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Public Money roundabout

    "It doesn't keep any of the money from those fines, which goes straight back to Osborne and co at HM Treasury. At the same time as its funding from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is being cut,"

    "The regulator has handed the majority of its fines to government bodies, with local councils and the NHS hit hardest"

    Operating costs for ICO

    government -> MoJ -> ICO

    Fines against government body

    govbody -> ico -> government

    operating costs for government body

    government -> govbody

    Results money from the public has to increase to pay for lawyers, spokespersons, bureaucracy and administration to support these wheels of motion.

    1. Terry Cloth

      Pure invitation to over-enforcement

      All enforcement fees should go into the general fund; the agencies should get their money through appropriations.

      For any regulatory body (police, patent office, ICO, what have you) to get the money from its actions guarantees that in short order they'll be reading the law for profit, rather than justice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pure invitation to over-enforcement

        Eh? I never said that the individual departments should keep their fines?

  3. GreenReaper

    Too often, these new 'rights' are abused. We must fight the ICO to preserve freedom of information. Remember, it's not "your data", just "data about you".

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