Feeds

Home Office promises proactive powers for info commissioner

Surveillance to police the surveillance society

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.