ICO on DCMS consultation: Worries about independence

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), says, in its response to the current data protection consultation by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, that it has strong concerns about the proposals with regard to the risk to the ICO’s regulatory independence.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said:

“For the future ICO to be able to hold government to account, it is vital its governance model preserves its independence and is workable, within the context of the framework set by Parliament and with effective accountability. The current proposals for the Secretary of State to approve ICO guidance and to appoint the CEO do not sufficiently safeguard this independence. I urge Government to reconsider these proposals to ensure the independence of the regulator is preserved.”

In general, Denham says she agrees with much of what is proposed, but ‘the devil is in the detail’:

“I support the intention of the proposals to make innovation easier for organisations. I agree there are ways in which the legislation can be changed to make it simpler for companies to do the right thing when it comes to our data. Perhaps most notably, it is vital that the inevitable regulatory and administrative obligations of legal compliance are proportionate to the risk an organisation's data processing activities represent. That means finding proportionate ways for organisations to demonstrate their accountability for how they collect, store, use and share our data. They must ensure data is safe and is not used in ways that might cause harm. And they must ensure that all people are able to exercise rights over their personal data.”

See: ICO - ICO response to DCMS consultation “Data: a new direction”