The Information Commissioner is to be given tougher powers to regulate the Data Protection Act under proposals put forward today by Justice Secretary Jack Straw.
The proposals form part of the government's response to the Data Sharing Review, which highlighted serious deficiencies in the handling of citizens' data in central government.
"As new technologies have developed, the secure storage and careful sharing of personal information held by both the public and private sectors has become paramount," said Straw.
"The changes we propose today will strengthen the Information Commissioner's ability to enforce the Data Protection Act, and improve the transparency and accountability of organisations dealing with personal information."
The proposals will enable the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to:
The government also proposes revising the ICO's funding structure for its work on data protection to a tiered fee system based on size of organisation. This will replace the £35 flat-rate notification fee which has not changed since its introduction in 1984.
Legislation will be introduced as soon as the parliamentary schedule allows, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Straw also proposed a motion to increase the Information Commissioner's salary from £98,000 to £140,000.