ICO urges UK Government not to dumb down data theft laws

The Information Commissioner's Office has, in strong words, warned the government not to water down existing laws that could send people convicted of stealing individuals' personal details to jail.

The ICO, via the Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, stressed that the government should ensure that Clause 76 of the Criminal Justice Bill is enforced.

Mr Thomas said in a statement that : ‘I am pleased that government is now taking data protection, and the need to prevent security breaches, more seriously. But there have been powerful last-ditch efforts to get clause 76 removed from the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. There has been widespread support for the government’s decision to strengthen the law and – if data protection is to be taken seriously - it is vital that the government and other parties should stand firm against any possible amendments. I am determined to stop the pernicious illegal market in personal information which our reports exposed."

Reckless data loss is also something that the ICO wants to become a criminal offence; this follows a string of government-related data losses that saw the loss of laptops, CDROMs and hard disk drives as well as physical documents, some of which have never been recovered.