Nuisance calls – the facts behind the headlines

By Andy Curry, Enforcement Group Manager.

newspaper-headlines-blogNuisance calls – and our action to stop them – are again in the headlines today. The government has moved to stop marketing companies from hiding behind ‘caller withheld’ numbers, while we’ve announced that we’ve issued more than £2million in fines over the past year.

But what are the facts behind those headlines? Continue reading

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Private investigator crackdown by ICO

By Damian Moran, Criminal Investigation Team manager.

private-investigator-300-220Private investigators suspected of unlawful practices will be surprised by doorstep visits by officers from the ICO this week.

The action by the ICO’s Criminal Investigation’s team follows intelligence we’ve gathered about the way private investigators (PIs) handle personal data.

The work of PIs involves obtaining, handling and reporting personal information. As such they must comply with the Data Protection Act and be registered as data controllers with the ICO.

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The view beyond the headline – considering the detail in the FOI Commission’s report

By Steve Wood, Head of Policy Delivery.

F-O-I-blog‘Victory for your right to know’ was the response of many commentators to the report of the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information, published last month.

There is certainly much to welcome in the report, least of all its conclusion “that the Act is generally working well, and that it has been one of a number of measures that have helped to change the culture of the public sector”.

But across the 64 pages and 21 recommendations there is a wealth of detailed comment on how the Act might be tweaked and shaped to improve its operation.

The Government has already responded to some of the recommendations and we look forward to discussing with them over the coming months.

In the meantime, we thought it might be useful to pick out a few key areas, particularly those that go beyond the previous post-legislative scrutiny report.

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Talked about marketing guidance gets update

By Steve Wood, Head of Policy Delivery.

Direct-marketing-guide-updatedLittle of the ICO’s work is more talked about than our regulation of marketing calls, texts and emails. From the Which? taskforce to the media investigations into charity fundraising, direct marketing is certainly a high profile subject.

More often than not, the focus is on our enforcement action against companies who flout the rules. That’s certainly the case today, as we issue another £225,000 of penalties to two companies in Swansea.

But while that remains in the headlines, it is our guidance on the law that proves so crucial to organisations. Today we’ve published an updated version, to ensure it can continue to enable organisations to understand how to comply with the law and follow good practice. Continue reading

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A data dozen to prepare for reform

By Steve Wood, Head of Policy Delivery.

gdpr-12-steps-to-take-nowManchester becomes the capital of UK data protection this week, with 800 data protection practitioners heading to our conference in the city. And for the delegates heading to the north-west, top of the agenda will be considering the impending implementation of the data protection reforms agreed last December.  The reforms encompass the General Data Protection Regulation, which will have direct effect, and a new Directive on data protection related to law enforcement.

The last pieces of work to finalise the texts continue apace, focused on translation and final legal checks. Once that happens, we’ll see final political agreement, hopefully around July and then a two year transition period to accustom ourselves to the new way of doing things.

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What are our mobile apps actually doing?

appsBy Simon Rice, Group Manager for Technology.

How long could people get by without using mobile apps? Maybe as long as a day without checking the weather or bank balance. Probably only a few hours without checking emails. And maybe even less than that for Facebook, or Twitter, or Whatsapp.

A study suggested that last summer suggested that smartphone users spent 89% of their mobile media time using mobile apps. And that usage equals money. App development is big business, with the European app economy supporting more than one and a half million jobs.

But as organisations look at where apps can improve the service they offer (and often the profits they target), we’re keen to make sure that privacy isn’t forgotten.

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Mobile phone masts, verderers and stamps: environmental info guidance gets updated

the-guide-to-EIR-updatedThe impact of environmental issues is never far away – flooding, car emissions and renewable energy all affect our lives and make the headlines. Access to information about the environment allows everyone to understand more about the things which affect them. That is the purpose of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR).

The EIR works similarly to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) but is actually a separate law based on a European Directive. Recent court cases have demonstrated areas where FOIA and EIR work differently. Today we’re publishing three updated pieces of guidance which, alongside the Guide to EIR, should help you to understand how the legislation works.

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ICO releases new encryption guidance

By Peter Brown, Senior Technology Officer

encryption-blogSo many data breaches that make the headlines lead to questions about whether the data placed at risk was encrypted. All too often, despite the relative ease with which encryption software can be used, the answer is either ‘no’ or ‘we’re not sure’.

Today the ICO has published updated guidance on encryption, featuring several scenarios designed to help you consider when and how you should use encryption.

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Rights for the Future: ICO plan 2016-2019

The ICO has launched its Corporate Plan for 2016-19, setting out a three year rolling plan on how we intend to achieve our objectives. Here is Information Commissioner Christopher Graham’s introduction to the plan.

ico-plan-2016-19The power of digital gives the consumer greater choice, but, at the same time, it also provides businesses with unprecedented amounts of personal information and detailed insights into how we live our lives. We entrust our data to commercial operations, often without even realising what we have done or the implications of having done it.

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