The Information Commissioner’s Office has dealt with record numbers of data protection incidents, nuisance marketing cases and individual complaints.

Releasing the ICO’s annual performance statistics for 2016/17, Deputy Commissioner Simon Entwisle revealed that the regulator had received more reported data protection breaches and fined more companies for unlawful activities than ever before.

The ICO’s telephone helpline, new live chat service and new online reporting tool all helped make it easier for the public to report their concerns to the regulator. Audits and new self-assessment tools helped increase organisations’ awareness of their responsibilities.

It is expected that the ICO’s work will intensify next year as it prepares for a new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – which introduces an even more rigorous data protection regime and stricter penalties for breaches. The new law comes into force on 25 May 2018.

Mr Entwisle said:

“People have a fundamental right to privacy and our achievements this year reflect our commitment to uphold that right.

“We have advised and educated organisations to help them work within the law and we have taken action when they’ve fallen short of the mark.

“People will continue to be at the heart of what we do as we look to the future.

“The new General Data Protection Regulation will give people greater control over their own data and we are working closely with organisations to help them understand their obligations and be ready for the new rules.”

He said:

“Staff at every level deserve credit for the contribution they have and continue to make. And Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s programme to strengthen the team – in both numbers and expertise - will equip the ICO to meet the challenges ahead.”

You can view the annual performance statistics for 2016/17 on the ICO website.

 

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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  8. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.
  9. 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.