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Data regulator issues guidance for online data

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The Information Commissioner's Office has issued what it calls new rules for the processing of information online.

They're not actually new rules, however - it's just a new 44-page pdf. The leaflet is also available in ebook format.

The failing regulator - facing court action for not meeting minimum European data protection standards and also lined up for reform by the coalition government - claims the pamphlet is the first of its kind.

The pamphlet reminds businesses of their responsibilities under the Data Protection Act, whether the information is online or in another format.

A spokeswoman for the ICO said the most important changes to best practise were around the use of social networking sites, cookies and behaviourial advertising.

There is a shorter pdf with advice for consumers on cookies, browser settings and social networking sites.

Commissioner Christopher Graham said companies faced a double whammy of enforcement and damaged reputation for data breaches.

The European Commission issued its final warning to the UK government to beef up data and privacy regulation or face a hearing in front of the Court of Justice. The Coalition government yesterday asked for feedback on fundamental reform of the regulator.

Viviane Reding said last month: "Having a watchdog with insufficient powers is like keeping your guard dog tied up in the basement."

The ICO has been criticised in the past for failing to act over Google mass-Wi-Fi snoop , Phorm's intercept programme and the government's loss of the entire child benefit database , to name but three.

In its defence the ICO would say governments have consistently refused its repeated demands to be given real, proactive rather than reactive, powers. ®

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