The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

Local councils are being offered advice from the data protection regulator ahead of a new law coming into force next year.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today published the results of a survey completed by local councils at the end of last year, along with a blog highlighting guidance available to help councils achieve compliance with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Anulka Clarke, ICO Head of Good Practice, said:

“The overarching conclusion from our analysis of the survey results was that, although there is a lot of good practice out there, with GDPR coming in May 2018, many councils have work to do to prepare for the new GDPR.

“Just today the ICO fined Norfolk Council for a data breach involving social work files. We will issue fines where necessary but we’d much rather work with councils to help them prevent data security incidents.

“That’s why we undertook this survey, to find out where the problems are, and why the ICO will be on hand in the run up to May 2018 to help councils in their GDPR preparations.”

The new GDPR sets high standards for organisations when it comes to the privacy of personal data. Having the right staff and procedures in place will be key to ensuring councils look after personal information properly and comply with the new rules.


Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Governance Survey received 173 responses.
  2. 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. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law that will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.
  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. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
  1. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  1. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to