Information Commissioner's Office (UK)

Information Commissioner's Office (UK)

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in the United Kingdom, is a non-departmental public body which reports directly to Parliament and is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. It is the independent regulatory office dealing with the Data Protection Act 1998 across the UK; and the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 in England and Wales.

The Information Commissioner is an independent official appointed by the Crown. The Commissioner's decisions are subject to the supervision of the Courts and the Information Tribunal. The Office's mission is to "Promote public access to official information and protect personal information". [ICO [ About Us] page, accessed September 25 2007]

Since the appointment of Richard Thomas as Commissioner, the ICO has been particularly noted for raising serious concerns over the Government's proposed British national identity card and database, as well as other similar databases such as the Citizen Information Project, Universal Child Database, and the NHS National Programme for IT, stating that the country is in danger of sleepwalking into a surveillance society, [Patrick Foster, [ "Big Brother surveillance means no one is safe, experts warn"] , The Times, March 27 2007, accessed September 16 2007] drawing attention to the misuse of such information by the former states of the Eastern bloc and Franco's Spain.

Labour MP David Winnick recently attacked the idea that concern about the Surveillance Society, as promoted by ICO, is widespread. Winnick told the Home Affairs Committee in June 2007 that while he often received letters requesting more CCTV monitoring he had never received a single letter of concern opposing monitoringPOV-statement|date=September 2008. [ [ "MP questions surveillance fears"] , BBC News Online, June 26 2007, accessed September 16 2007]

Data Protection Act

The United Kingdom as a member of the European Union is subject to a strict regime of Data Protection. The Data Protection Act 1984 created the post of Data Protection Registrar with whom people processing personal data had to register. Under the provisions of EC Directive 95/46 (introduced in the UK as the Data Protection Act 1998, rather than as an SI under the European Communities Act 1972) the name of the post was changed to the "Data Protection Commissioner".

You can search the [ register of data controllers] at the [ website of the ICO] , which also gives links to his counterparts around Europe.

Freedom of Information Act

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the Commissioner's role was expanded to include freedom of information and the job title was changed to Information Commissioner ('IC'). The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 is the domain of the Scottish Information Commissioner and is aimed at public bodies administered by the Scottish Parliament (which are not covered by the UK Act).

List of Information Commissioners

* Richard Thomas (appointed December 2, 2002)
* Elizabeth France (appointed January 30, 2001)
* Eric Howe (appointed September, 1984)

imilar roles in Europe

The role of the ICO is mirrored throughout the countries of the European Union and EEA who have equivalent officials created under their versions of Directive 95/46.

ee also

*Data privacy
*Departments of the United Kingdom Government
*Privacy International
*The United Kingdom Office of Communications (Ofcom)
*The United Kingdom Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem)
*The United Kingdom Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofgem)
*Telephone Preference Service



External links

* [ The Official Site] , accessed September 16 2007

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