In Christopher Graham’s last annual report as Information Commissioner, he describes a year of ‘real achievement’ as he looks back over the last 12 months.

The Commissioner, who steps down today after seven years, said:

“We have delivered on our objectives, responding to new challenges, and preparing for big changes, particularly in the data protection and privacy field.”

During the past year changes in the rules on nuisance marketing meant the ICO were able to issue fines totalling more than £2 million; the organisation offered expert advice to many parliamentary committees including the Burns Commission and its review of freedom of information law and began preparing for new data protection reforms.

In the 2015/16 report Mr Graham commented on the real progress made:

“The ICO has had to respond effectively to the unexpected. Big data breaches such as that at Talk Talk. Acting on newspaper allegations about charity fundraising methods that breached data protection and privacy law. Taking part in the debate on surveillance and security and the Investigatory Powers Bill. And, in its responses following the Schrems Judgment, with all the implications for transatlantic data flows, the ICO’s influential counsel has helped to avert a meltdown.

“The credit for another year of high performance is shared by staff at every level of the organisation and I should like to thank everyone at the ICO for what they have done to contribute to this result.”

Speaking at the launch of the report in London today Mr Graham also looked towards the future:

“Over the coming weeks we will be discussing with Government the implications of the referendum result and its impact on data protection reform in the UK.

“With so many businesses and services operating across borders, international consistency around data protection laws and rights is crucial both to businesses and organisations and to consumers and citizens. The ICO’s role has always involved working closely with regulators in other countries, and that will continue to be the case.

“Having clear laws with safeguards in place is more important than ever given the growing digital economy, and we will be speaking to government to present our view that reform of the UK law remains necessary.”

The annual report reflects on the financial year 2015/16. Key stats include:

16,388 – data protection concerns received
194,728 – helpline calls answered
161,190 – numbers of concerns received about nuisance calls

 

Notes to Editors

  1.     The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  1.     The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  1.     The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  1.     Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
  • fairly and lawfully processed;
  • processed for limited purposes;
  • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
  • accurate and up to date;
  • not kept for longer than is necessary;
  • processed in line with your rights;
  • secure; and
  • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  1.     The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications.

There are specific rules on:

  • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
  • cookies (and similar technologies);
  • keeping communications services secure; and
  • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.

  1.     To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns/