The Information Commissioner’s Office is an independent agency that maintains the register and enforces the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Acts. The functions of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) include promoting good practice, ruling on complaints and taking regulatory action.
Information Comissioner is appointed by HM Queen andhas independent status, reporting directly to Parliament.
Richard Thomas’s history includes:
- Director of Public Policy at Clifford Chance;
- Director of Consumer Affairs at the Office of Fair Trading;
- Head of Public Affairs and Legal Officer at the National Consumer Council;
- Solicitor with the Citizens Advice Bureau Service and Freshfields.
Mr Thomas has spoken out against unnecessary surveillance and the rights to privacy: Producing the What price privacy now? report, commissioning the Surveillance Society report, and urging the government to introduce and increase laws against the personal trade in data.
As of March 31, 2003, there were 211,251 databases registered with the Commission.
The agency received 12,001 requests for assessment and inquiries, and 59,000 phone enquiries in 2002-2003.
There were 91 prosecutions and 80 convictions (some from previous years), mostly for unlawfully obtaining or selling of personal data.
The Commissioner is also responsible for enforcing the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations and received 1,700 complaints for breaches of the regulations.