ICO’s new regulatory powers announced

I blogged, the other day, about the Information Commissioner’s launch event for EPG’s “Privacy By Design” report. At the same event, the Commissioner spoke briefly on the Ministry of Justice’s announcement of new regulatory powers for his office… including the power to fine organisations shown to have recklessly and/or deliberately losing personal data, and to conduct consentless inspections of government departments’ data handling processes.

The formal announcement of those powers took place in the Queen’s Speech today, as the monarch set out the government’s legislative programme for the coming session of parliament. Even if you followed the coverage of the speech, though, you might be forgiven for not having spotted that, as the ICO’s new powers are buried in the “Coroners and Justice Bill”.

It’s not for me to try and guess why. Presumably there is some arcane logic at work here, applied by the team at the Ministry of Justice. Incidentally, I was lucky enough, a couple of months ago, to be invited to the MoJ for a workshop which followed on from the Thomas/Walport Report on Public Sector Data Sharing and formed part of the consultation process for the current Bill.

I have to say, having gone to the meeting with a bundle of prejudices and quite prepared to find fault with whatever I encountered, I found the MoJ staff we dealt with to be engaging, professional and largely aligned with my own views on the topic. It was a very pleasant surprise.