In a bid to address the surging cases of data losses by private companies and government agencies, UK’s Information Commissioner’s powers have been augmented substantially, which would allow the data protection watchdog to impose fines for “deliberate or reckless” information losses, according to new proposals from the Ministry of Justice.
The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas had been campaigning for greater powers, since the two discs containing crucial data of 25 million beneficiaries of child benefit scheme were mislaid in November last year.
The proposals have been introduced in the wake of Data Sharing Review published earlier this year, and it empowers the ICO, in addition to imposing fines for data loss, to check the government departments without requiring permission for it.
According to the proposals put forth by the justice secretary, Jack Straw, government agencies could be banned from selling information to marketing companies.
Quoting the importance of new powers for the ICO, Mr Straw said in a statement, “As new technologies have developed, the secure storage and careful sharing of personal information held by both the public and private sectors has become paramount”.
The move is dubbed as the government’s response to the report released by the Conservatives last week, which revealed that government has lost 53 desktop and laptop computers, 36 Blackberries, 30 mobile handsets, and four memory sticks.