Feeds

ICO finally gets new data protection penalty powers

One fine day in April 2010

The Power of One Infographic

Privacy regulator the Information Commissioner will be handed new powers to issue fines next April. The Commissioner's office has confirmed for the first time the date on which it will be able to hand out new fines.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) was promised the long lobbied-for powers by Government but no date had been set. The ICO says that it has been told the new powers will take effect in April.

Under the Data Protection Act (DPA) the ICO cannot issue fines for breaches of the eight data protection principles at the heart of the law. From next April that will change and it will be able to issue fines for knowing or reckless breaches of the Act's principles.

"The ICO has pressed strongly for monetary penalties where the Data Protection Act has been knowingly or recklessly breached. Penalties are being introduced next April, but are not yet in force," said an ICO statement.

A spokesman for the ICO said that it did not yet know how much it would be allowed to fine people and organisations, and that there was "some work still being done" on the fines.

The fines can be levied by the ICO when one of the eight principles have been seriously breached, but only if the ICO is convinced that the breach was deliberate or that the data controller knew, or ought to have known, of the contravention risk, and that the contravention would be likely to cause substantial damage or substantial distress and that the controller failed to take action to stop it.

The power to make the changes were introduced in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act in 2008. The Ministry of Justice is the Government department responsible for the changes, but it had no comment to make on the timescale.

Rosemary Jay, a privacy law expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said that it was "surprising" that the date was announced by the ICO and not by the Ministry of Justice.

"Data controllers should be warned that they cannot rely on this timetable," she said. "The date has not been announced or confirmed by the relevant Government department, the Ministry of Justice; the date of commencement is in the hands of Parliament and the Government not the ICO."

"The position is complicated by the fact that the power to fine cannot be brought in until all the preparatory work has been completed and a Code of Practice issued," she said.

"The fines provisions are part of a wider agenda of increased powers for the Information Commissioner and observers would expect many of these to be put forward as a package by Ministers," said Jay. "The ICO will of course have been working behind the scenes with the Ministry and will be aware of the proposed timetable but timetables can slip, events can intervene and there can be no certainty until Parliament has agreed the commencement order."

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.