Privacy watchdog may get powers to raid

Under government proposals to 'sharpen its teeth', the ICO could be granted powers to carry out compulsory inspections under warrant at premises suspected of a data breach

The UK's privacy watchdog could get new powers to raid organisations under government proposals to "sharpen its teeth".

The government launched its consultation on the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) powers and funding following the Data Sharing Review, which recommended that the ICO be given more money and authority to fine organisations for "reckless" data breaches.

Proposals being consulted on include giving the ICO powers to carry out compulsory inspections under warrant at premises suspected of a data breach; to set deadlines for information to be handed over; and to fine organisations that have breached a "good practice assessment".

The government said it is important the information commissioner is able to enforce the Data Protection Act in a rapidly changing environment.

The Poynter Review recently highlighted systematic data handling failures in the HM Revenue & Customs that led to it losing the personal details of 25 million people.

The "reckless" loss of data was made a civil offence punishable by a fine earlier this year, although how this will be enforced has not yet been made clear.

Justice minister Michael Wills said in a statement: "We believe sharpening the information commissioner's teeth will enable him to be a stronger, more effective regulator.

"The way we use and protect information affects our ability to deliver better public services, opportunities for the most disadvantaged, improved protection from crime and terrorism and sustained economic well being. That's why we're launching this consultation."


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