ICO: Public has 'woken up' to potential of personal data

The public has 'woken up' to the potential of its personal data, according to Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham as she hails an ‘unprecedented’ year for the authority on the publication of its annual findings.

“The ICO has covered an enormous amount of ground over the last year -- from the introduction of a new data protection law, to our calls to change the freedom of information law, from record-setting fines to a record number of people raising data protection concerns," Denham said.

“The biggest moment of the year was the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force. This saw people wake up to the potential of their personal data, leading to greater awareness of the role of the regulator when their data rights aren’t being respected. The doubling of concerns raised with our office reflects that.”

Among previous notable events, May 2017 saw the ICO launch a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes, after allegations were made about the ‘invisible processing’ of personal data and the micro-targeting of political adverts during the 2016 EU referendum. The investigation eventually broadened and has become the largest investigation of its type by any data protection authority.

The investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes has by no means been its only major investigation.



Taking back control (Source: Information Commissioners' Office)


-The ICO’s helpline, chat and written advice services received 471,224 contacts in 2018-19, a 66% increase from 2017/18 (283,727 contacts)

-Data protection complaints received by the ICO increased from 21,019 in 2017/18 to 41,661 in 2018/19

-Supporting the public through the ICO’s many expanded public-facing services (like the helpline and live text service)

-Helping organisations, small or large, embed the GDPR and DPA 2018

-Preparation of statutory codes focusing on age appropriate design, data sharing, direct marketing, and data protection and journalism.

-Using new powers of inspection – issuing 11 assessment notices in conjunction with our investigations into data analytics for political purposes, political parties, data brokers, credit reference agencies and others
-Taking action through enforcement notices

-Issuing warnings and reprimands across a range of sectors including health, central government, criminal justice, education, retail and finance

-2018/19 was a record-breaking year of monetary penalties under the DPA 1998.

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