An efficient Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that is well prepared for the future with adequate power and funding is needed for the UK.
Speaking at the launch of its 2013/2014 report, which it titled as “effective, efficient and busier than ever”, Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said he felt that the ICO was “doing a good job if it was helping organisations understand and receive a fair and efficient response”.
Graham said that the traditional enforcement role is important, and the commissioner needed to have the power to audit by going in without notice, and he wanted the ICO to be able to use its discretion to intervene where risk is proportiante. “Education and guidance are key to rights and responsibilities; we are here to empower citizens and consumers and enable new services and technologies without compromising privacy,” he said.
Highlighting the “five E’s” – enforcement, education, empowering, enabling and engaging, Graham admitted that there had been a loss of confidence in data protection, and incidents had raised question marks on whether data is safe and secure.
He concluded by saying that it had “never been more important than now to have access to an independent regulator to handle personal data”, and cited the Care.data case as an example.
He said: “There has never been a greater need to have an independent information rights regulator and it depends on having powers and funding, as the use of data is getting ever more complicated and we need someone to overlook information both of the Government and business, so a regulator can be trusted.
“Independence means resouces to take on an ever-growing number of cases, resources yes, but having powers to act on more serious complaints and a serious regulator is needed if breaches affect millions, and that is the ICO. To do the job properly we need stronger powers and sustainable funding and the independence to do that.”