Nov 112010
 November 11, 2010  Posted by  Non-U.S.

New laws that impact on privacy should undergo post-legislative scrutiny, Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said today in an update report to Parliament on the state of surveillance.

The Commissioner recommends that there should be a legal requirement to make sure all new laws that engage significant privacy concerns undergo post-legislative scrutiny to ensure they are being implemented and used as intended by Parliament. The report also makes the case for the use of ‘sunset clauses’ where legislation poses a high privacy risk.

The report, presented to the Home Affairs Select Committee today, also makes a number of recommendations for the private sector, particularly that the privacy implications of new technologies are considered before they are launched rather than being an afterthought. Other recommendations include the use of robust privacy safeguards as well as the more wide-spread adoption of privacy enhancing technologies. The report was requested by the Home Affairs Committee as one the recommendations arising from its inquiry into the surveillance society.

The report includes research findings by the Surveillance Studies Network, a group of academic experts in this field. This gauges how far privacy safeguards have kept pace with developments in surveillance and concludes that more still needs to be done.

Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said:

“Many of the new laws that come into force every year in the UK have implications for privacy at their heart. My concern is that after they are enacted there is no one looking back to see whether they are being used as intended, or whether the new powers were indeed justified in practice. One example of this is the use of covert CCTV surveillance by local councils to monitor parents in school catchment area disputes under powers designed to assist in crime prevention and detection.

“The report I’ve presented to Parliament today clearly makes the case for government departments to build post-legislative scrutiny into their work as a key way of ensuring the successful delivery of the new transparency and privacy agenda.”

The report is available on the ICO website here:

Source: Information Commissioner’s Office

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