Elizabeth Denham has published her first annual report as the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner.

Ms Denham took the post in July 2016, as the ICO was starting to gear up for significant changes provided by the EU data protection reform package including the new General Data Protection Regulation, which will replace the current Data Protection Act in May 2018.

The work continues and Ms Denham said:

“My office is preparing for the future in data protection with new processes, a comprehensive change programme and an education and guidance programme for stakeholders and the public.

 “As the laws we regulate change, there is an opportunity for us to improve the trust that the public feel in those who process their personal data or who make information available to the public. We have launched our new Information Rights Strategic Plan that places this trust at the heart of what the Information Commissioner’s Office will do in the next four years.”

 The report includes the ICO’s annual operational performance statistics which were published separately earlier this year and which reflected the office’s consistently improving work to regulate information rights in the UK.

 There has also been internal change at the ICO with the creation of a new Senior Leadership Team and a new departmental structure to best address future information rights challenges and opportunities, both in the UK and overseas.

 Ms Denham added: “The digital economy is very important to the UK – personal data and how it is handled is central to trade and growth, and studies show the digital economy is growing 30% faster than the rest of the economy. Data knows no borders.

“Continued growth and citizen confidence in the digital economy needs an information rights regulator that is helpful, authoritative, tech-savvy and practical, but also a regulator that is firm and takes action when wrongdoing occurs. I believe that this report shows that our improving services and productivity make us that regulator.”

 Ms Denham succeeded Christopher Graham, who had been Information Commissioner since 2009.

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. 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 ico.org.uk/concerns/
  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.