The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has launched a consultation to gather the views of stakeholders and the public on the way it plans to regulate new data protection laws.

People will have eight weeks to comment on the ICO’s draft Regulatory Action Policy which gives direction and focus to the organisations it regulates.

The Policy has been updated to include enhanced powers set out in the Data Protection Bill currently going through Parliament. Proposed new powers include no-notice inspections, compelling people and organisations to hand over information and making it a criminal offence to destroy, falsify or conceal evidence.

The Policy also covers all 11 pieces of legislation that the ICO is responsible for including the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations which covers nuisance calls, texts and emails.

It reinforces the ICO’s commitment to a proportionate and risk-based approach to enforcement.

James Dipple-Johnstone, Deputy Commissioner said:

“Our approach is designed to protect people’s information but also ensure that business is able to function and innovate in the digital age.

“We’ll target our most significant powers on repeated, wilful or serious failures to take proper steps to protect personal data and deliver information rights. Our formal regulatory action will serve as an important deterrent where it needs to.”

The consultation closes on 28 June. The revised Policy will be subject to Parliamentary consideration and final approval.

Notes to Editors

  1. James Dipple-Johnstone, Deputy Commissioner Operations has written a blog about the ICO's enhanced powers.
  2. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  10. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.