Feeds

ICO finally gets new data protection penalty powers

One fine day in April 2010

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

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.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.