UK Data Protection Commissioner lays out three-year plan to deal with ‘rising demand and shrinking resources’ | Science and technology news
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will today present a three-year plan for how it will comply with data protection laws in the face of “rising demand and shrinking resources”.
Some of this will be allowed under the UK’s new data protection regime, which allows the ICO to focus on the incidents that cause the most damage – such as: B. annoying callers who scam elderly victims with bogus insurance sales.
The watchdog’s priority topics will include examining the impact of these predatory marketing calls, alongside the use of algorithms within the Department of Works and Pensions’ benefits system to profile potential fraud and the use of artificial intelligence in hiring that negatively impact ethnic groups could minorities.
Read more: ‘Despicable’ companies fined for ‘predatory’ and ‘coerced’ requests to sell unnecessary insurance to elderly
Crucial – in the midst of an energy-driven Cost of Living Crisiswith an inflation rate of a 40 year high – The ICO aims to save companies at least £100m through a range of measures including providing as much compliance training and help as possible from the center rather than forcing companies to pay for it themselves.
Speaking to Sky News ahead of his speech, Information Commissioner John Edwards acknowledged that businesses are under pressure: “Any cost that is not productive is a deadweight loss for them in a really stressed environment.
“When a small business is told by a consultant, ‘Look, you need to send a data protection officer on a training course and it costs £300…’ you know, if I can say we’re putting all our training online for free – we do spend once in the center so 10,000 of those £300 businesses don’t have to – that’ll save a huge amount.”
Freedom of Information Act “fundamental” to democracy
The ICO said it will also aim to reduce fines for public bodies such as the Department of Health, which recently received a formal reprimand as requested by the regulator a review of the way government officials use private news channels.
This call for a review was prompted by concerns about the impact on official record keeping and the public’s ability to track information the government wants to keep private under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
“There are few regulators who can say their work is fundamental to the democracy society insists on. But that’s the value of the Freedom of Information Act,” Edwards will say in his speech.
“My job is to ensure that the administration of this law is fit for the modern world,” he will say.
Speaking to Sky News, after six months on the job, Mr Edwards said: “It seems pretty clear to me that the FOI system is not working as expected when the law was drafted.”
Rather than making an immediate decision, he said he wanted to start a conversation about “some of the trade-offs” and have a more public conversation about how the regulator intervenes in FOI disputes.
“I’m willing to consider if we pull some things off the queue and say, ‘Look, this is in the public interest, we should speed this up,'” he added.
He acknowledged that this approach could be controversial. The ICO could be accused of picking winners or engaging in political partisanship if it advances a case that may be anti-government or anti-government.
“I think if we’re going to do that, it’s important that we establish some fairly clear and objective criteria against which we make those decisions and openly offer to be accountable for those decisions.”
Mr Edwards asked: “Should we be blind to who the requester is, or should we say that someone reporting for a national newspaper is acting on behalf of a large number of people and has some sort of agency interest?”
The ICO receives thousands of complaints each year about FOI law responses, each of which requires a clerk to investigate.
Because the regulator’s funding is relatively low, Mr Edwards said: “We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect things to be different. We need to change the way we do things.”
In some cases, this could mean making mediation decisions, he suggested, although sometimes this might not be possible when the hard-to-access information contains the crucial details of public interest.
Last year the government denied Established a “Clearing House” unit to profile journalists and subvert FOI requests after a letter from newspaper editors calling for action began.
Numerous journalists, including open democracy and The timeshave determined that special counsels have interfered with the process required by law by which information should be released to them.
In response to these criticisms, the Cabinet Office has now opened an internal inquiry into this practice, but has been criticized for refusing to confirm that the final report of this inquiry will be released contrary to the recommendations of a parliamentary committee and Mr Edwards.