Information Commissioner gets stronger powers

09 May 2008 View Comments
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The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has been granted new powers. The data watchdog has had one of its requests answered, gaining the ability to impose 'substantial' fines on business that lose data.

The new powers are enabled by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act which this week received Royal Assent, meaning that it has passed into law. The legislation gives the ICO the power to, " impose substantial fines on organisations that deliberately or recklessly commit serious breaches of the Data Protection Act.

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David Smith, Deputy Information Commissioner said, “This change in the law sends a very clear signal that data protection must be a priority and that it is completely unacceptable to be cavalier with people’s personal information. The prospect of substantial fines for deliberate or reckless breaches of the Data Protection Principles will act as a strong deterrent and help ensure that organisations take their data protection obligations more seriously.

“This new power will enable some of the worst breaches of the Data Protection Act to be punished. By demonstrating that the law is being taken seriously tougher sanctions will help to reassure individuals that data protection matters and give them confidence that organisations have no choice but to handle personal information properly.

The ICO has repeatedly called for stronger powers since the Data Protection Act came into force.

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