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The UK data protection regulator the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) has reported a ‘significant increase’ in the number of data protection concerns brought to it. Last year saw 18,300 cases received; about 2,000 more than the previous year. Of these the ICO has resolved more cases than ever, closing over 17,300. As a comparison, the number of complaints about freedom of information was similar to the previous year with over 5,400 new cases received and 5,100 closed during the year.
As an indication of how little CCTV is on the regulator’s radar, well behind nuisance marketing calls under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, and freedom of information requests to public authorities, the report only mentioned domestic CCTV complaints, ‘generally related to neighbour disputes or alleged harassment’. The ICO issued 16 civil monetary penalties totalling £1,624,500 for serious breaches of UK data protection principles across both public and private sectors. The largest was a £400,000 penalty (compared with the maximum allowed of £500,000) issued to the telecoms firm Talk Talk after a high-profile data breach.
For the ICO annual 80-page report in full visit https://ico.org.uk/.
Elizabeth Denham is the new Information Commissioner, having taken the post in July 2016, replacing Christopher Graham. She 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.
“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.”
The ICO reports a big increase in its number of staff to do with the change in law – the Data Protection Act 1998 being replaced due to the European Union-wide general data protection regulation (GDPR). In the recent Queen’s Speech, the Conservative Government confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the coming in of the GDPR.