Important changes afoot at the Information Commissioner’s Office

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently published its strategic plan for April 2014 to March 2017. The plan has been drawn up following feedback from the ICO’s public consultation, ‘Looking ahead, staying ahead: Towards a 2020 vision for information rights’, which closed in February. It provides a useful insight into the future landscape of information rights’ regulation.

The plan identifies six objectives to enable the ICO to meet its future goals, including the need to ensure organisations have a clearer understanding of their information rights obligations; that consumers receive a proportionate, fair and efficient response where concerns are raised; and that enforcement powers are used proportionately to improve compliance. 

As part of the changes, a process is to be introduced monitoring the speed of data controllers’ responses to data subject access requests and public authorities’ responses to freedom-of-information requests. Existing response deadlines of 40 days (under the Data Protection Act 1998 [DPA]) and 20 working days (under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 [FOIA]) can be daunting for busy organisations, particularly if they have not received multiple requests previously or where they are continuously pressed…

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