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The UK could get a Privacy Commissioner

Would shore up data protection
Mon Nov 28 2011, 12:51

THE UNITED KINGDOM could get a dedicated Privacy Commissioner, according to a tabled discussion in the House of Lords.

We learned of the tabled amendment via Privacy International, which pointed followers towards the document on Twitter and told the INQUIRER that such a change is needed in the UK, due to what is a poor data protection situation for UK citizens.

"If successful, the UK could have a real privacy regulator rather than a weak one that merely oversees data protection," it said.

This "weak one" is the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the toothless UK watchdog that apparently is more bark than bite. In response to a question for more comment on the ICO and its role, Privacy International pointed us to two of its blogs, neither of which has a positive view of the organisation.

One suggests that the ICO has tried to cover up its own investigative failings, and the other says that it is a failure anyway. "It is a quasi judicial regulator that sees its role as protecting data rather than people," Privacy International says.

The new role would concentrate on the people part of data, according to the House of Lords amendment. "The Secretary of State shall appoint a Commissioner to be known as the Privacy Commissioner.... It shall be the duty of the Commissioner to promote respect for individual privacy," the amendment says.

We've asked the ICO to respond. µ


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