Public Services > Central Government

ICO annual report highlights funding and staff challenges

Neil Merrett Published 14 July 2017

Having completed her first full year in the information commissioner role, Elizabeth Denham has set out key upcoming challenges as a result of GDPR introduction next May

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) had identified issues such as ensuring a sufficient number of internal staff, new funding models and providing clear guidance on the incoming European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as key challenges for the next year.

With the publication of the data regulator’s 2016/17 annual report this week, information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said the changing data protection landscape represented by GDPR, which will become UK law from May 2018, was a main area of uncertainty for its operations.

In the first full annual report Denham has published since taking up leadership of the ICO last year, she highlighted a number of specific challenges relating to GDPR.

A key consideration was to ensure the right number of staff to both guide organisations and individuals around upcoming changes to data protection legislation, as well as to enforce these new laws.  In order to support this work, another key consideration for the ICO was a need to introduce a revised, “robust” fee system to ensure sufficient funding is in place.

Denham said the data regulator was already preparing a number of programmes concerning education and guidance for the public and private sectors.

 “As the laws we regulate change, there is an opportunity for us to improve the trust that the public feel in those who process their personal data or who make information available to the public. We have launched our new Information Rights Strategic Plan that places this trust at the heart of what the Information Commissioner’s Office will do in the next four years.”

Reflecting on the work undertaken by the ICO over the last twelve months, Denham noted that the organisation had witnessed internal changes such as the creation of new senior leadership role and management structure for its work both at a UK and international level.

“Continued growth and citizen confidence in the digital economy needs an information rights regulator that is helpful, authoritative, tech-savvy and practical, but also a regulator that is firm and takes action when wrongdoing occurs,” she said. “I believe that this report shows that our improving services and productivity make us that regulator.”

The annual findings also detail the ICO’s operational performance statistics for 2016/17.

According to the statistics, in considering concerns raised with the ICO relating to a specific sector, ‘general business’ amounted for 13% of issues it faced during 2016/17.

Over the same period, 10% of concerns were found to relate to health, the joint second highest number for a sector alongside local government.  This was relatively unchanged from the previous financial year, according to the ICO.

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