Feeds

Home Office promises proactive powers for info commissioner

Surveillance to police the surveillance society

The essential guide to IT transformation

The Home Office has promised to give the Information Commissioner powers to make spot inspections on people's databases to determine if they have complied with the Data Protection Act.

Reporting to the first hearing of the Home Office Select Committee into the surveillance society today, Information Commissioner Richard Thomas said: "The Home Office have accepted in principle that we should have the power to go in and inspect.

"We have got the government to agree we should have that power - if not in the statute, in the code of practice," he said.

However, he later told the hearing that though his office had been lobbying the Home Office, the Lord Chancellor, and the Department of Constitutional Affairs, he still couldn't be sure he would actually get inspection powers.

"They smile and say they will do it when they can, but we haven't yet had a firm commitment that they will change the law," he said, adding that the European Commission had also waded in to support the idea.

Thomas said his office's brief presently required it to get the consent of the data controller before inspecting someone's data to assess whether it was fairly managed - unless it had enough evidence of criminal behaviour to get a judge to sign a warrant.

He was unhappy that while other regulators were allowed to make spot inspections, he wasn't: "To know that the regulator can step in has a very sharp deterrent effect on organisations."

Thomas said it had also "been broadly accepted" that he would regulate public sector access to private sector databases.

"We need a framework to make sure the legitimate purposes of the police and law enforcement bodies are served by accessing this data, that it's not a free for all - they can go and and look at everyone's data and just make merry with it - it's got to be proportionate, for a defined purpose," he said. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.