Feeds

UK told to strengthen data protection, again

Your watchdog is a puppy - sort it out or go to court

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The European Commission has told the UK government to beef up data protection in order to bring safeguards for British citizens up to European standards.

We now have two months to improve the situation and bolster the powers of the Information Commissioner's Office. This is the second stage of the infringement process taken against countries which are failing to follow European law.

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "Data protection authorities have the crucial and delicate task of protecting the fundamental right to privacy. EU rules require that the work of data protection authorities must not be unbalanced by the slightest hint of legal ambiguity. I will enforce this vigorously. I urge the UK to change its rules swiftly so that the data protection authority is able to perform its duties with absolute clarity about the rules."

She added, "Having a watchdog with insufficient powers is like keeping your guard dog tied up in the basement."

European data protection is covered by the 1995 Data Protection Directive. But the Commission believes that current UK law fails on several issues.

Firstly the Commission said the ICO had inadequate powers to check other countries' data protection practises - it needs to check this before international transfers of data happen.

Secondly it cannot perform random checks on people or data processing organisations, nor can it enforce penalties after such checks.

The Commission is also unhappy with court powers to refuse the right for people to have information about themselves corrected or deleted.

A spokeswoman for the ICO said: "It is important that we have effective data protection regulation to help protect individuals' personal information. We look forward to discussing the Commission's detailed concerns with the Ministry of Justice and providing input into the UK Government's response."

The Commission's infringement process has three steps, the first being a Letter of Formal Notice requesting information. Second comes a Reasoned Opinion - today's step. Finally the Commission can refer the UK to the Court of Justice.

The ICO asked for more powers in the wake of the loss of 25 million child benefit records, and on many occasions since, but political interest waned. In March the ICO asked the Tories to grant it more powers should they win the election.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham also campaigned for custodial sentences for data breaches.

The Commission statement is here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road
It's hard enough to peel the onion, are you hard enough to eat the core?
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
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.
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.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.