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ICO comes under scrutiny from MPs following Google staff revelation

Robert Halfon calls for investigation of privacy watchdog
Tue Jul 10 2012, 12:20
Google Streetview Red Car

THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE (ICO) has come under scrutiny from MPs following last week's revelation that a former employee who worked there during its Google Street View investigation is now a senior privacy chief at the internet search firm.

The revelation, which was uncovered through a Freedom of Information request, showed that Stephen McCartney, a former strategic liaison group manager for government and society at the ICO, is now a privacy policy manager at Google.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon is calling for the government to investigate the ICO over the staff move, asking whether the watchdog body is "fit for purpose".

"The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has now admitted that one of its former privacy managers, who reportedly worked on its Google Street View investigation, is now employed by Google as a senior executive," Halfon wrote.

"This revolving-door policy raises serious questions about the ICO, and whether it is fit for purpose, as there is already evidence that it was incredibly slow to act on this breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 and only did so following pressure from Parliament and the media; and therefore urges the Government to consider whether the public can continue to have confidence in the ICO."

However, the ICO last week dismissed claims that McCartney was part of its Google Street View investigation, saying he "played no part" in the high-profile case.

"ICO employees continue to be legally bound by a confidentiality agreement after they leave the organisation, as part of the Data Protection Act," an ICO spokesperson added. µ


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