Is the ICO fit for purpose?

FOIMan summarises the outcome of the government’s long-awaited Triennial Review of the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The government has finally published its Triennial Review of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The long-awaited report concludes that:

  • the ICO still has an important role to play
  • it needs to adjust to the challenges of developing technology
  • it should still report to a sponsoring department in government rather than the Commissioner becoming an officer of Parliament
  • its structure should change to a board of commissioners – in line with a recommendation made by the Leveson Inquiry
  • the government and ICO should quickly agree a more sustainable funding approach especially for DP activities.

Along the way, the report highlights criticism from many stakeholders which is familiar to long-term observers in this field – that the ICO aren’t tough enough at enforcement, that they go for the easy targets, and that the quality of guidance and assistance from the ICO can be inconsistent and sometimes poor. Nonetheless the report also discusses the achievements of the ICO in reducing backlogs and providing necessary expertise. It also recognises some of the challenges that the ICO has faced in recent years.

Overall, I suspect the ICO won’t be unhappy with the report and especially the recognition that whilst changes are necessary, government needs to put its hand in its pocket to pay for a more effective regulator. For more details, read the published report.

Source: Triennial Review of the ICO, 8 November 2016

Postscript: the government has rejected the proposal to restructure the ICO as a multi-commissioner board.

Source: statement by Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock MP

 

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