Simon Davies, the Director of Privacy International, pulls absolutely no punches on this one. Good for him!
Let me get the headline point out of the way before delving into the detail. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has become a threat to privacy. The legislation that underpins the Office is narrow and in places regressive, and the ICO itself risks becoming a dangerous anachronism.
The heart of the problem is that the ICO is functioning exactly as it was intended to function. It is a quasi judicial regulator that sees its role as protecting data rather than people. The ICO is often seen as the country’s leading privacy watchdog but the reality is that it is constrained by gutless legislation and by a web of equally ineffective and opaque regulators who have carved out the privacy landscape into a jagged and chaotic clutter.
Decisions by the ICO are thus timid and narrowly focused. Its views are sometimes ill-informed, frequently of little consequence and almost always out of step with the more proactive and advanced regulators overseas. For example only now, after 25 years in the business, has the ICO decided to employ a technology adviser, but on a salary equivalent to a junior researcher.
Read all of his commentary on Privacy International.