MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
News Release (091/08) issued by The Government News Network on 16
BEGINS ON INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S ROLE : INSPECTION POWERS
Proposals to increase the powers, funding and duties of the
Information Commissioner will be examined in a consultation
The Government wants to ensure that the Information Commissioner
has the powers and resources to continue to be able to carry out
his duties under the Data Protection Act 1998 effectively in a
rapidly changing environment.
Justice Minister Michael Wills said:
"We believe sharpening the Information Commissioner's
teeth will enable him to be a stronger, more effective regulator.
"The way we use and protect information affects our ability
to deliver better public services, opportunities for the most
disadvantaged, improved protection from crime and terrorism and
sustained economic well being. That's why we're
launching this consultation."
The consultation proposes:
* To examine the Information
Commissioner's inspection powers;
* To scrutinise funding
the Information Commissioner's duties.
The consultation follows the Data Sharing Review Report, by
Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, and Dr Mark Walport,
of the Wellcome Trust, published on 11 July. The Review looks at
the use and protection of personal information in today's society.
Notes to Editors
1. The Data Sharing Review report can be accessed on line at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/reviews/datasharing-intro.htm.
2. The Data Sharing Review was commissioned on 25 October 2007 by
the Prime Minister in his speech on Liberty: http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/Page13630.asp.
3. The review was undertaken by Dr Mark Walport and Richard
Thomas. Dr Walport is the Director of the Wellcome Trust and a
member of the Council for Science and Technology, the
Government's top-level independent advisory body on science
and technology policy Issues. Richard Thomas in the Information
Commissioner - the UK's independent authority charged with
promoting access to official information and protecting personal
information. Mr Thomas conducted this review in an independent capacity.
4. The review's terms of reference were, in summary, to
consider whether changes are needed to the operation of the Data
Protection Act 1998, to provide recommendations on the powers and
sanctions available to the Information Commission and the courts
in the legislation governing data sharing and data protection, and
to provide recommendations on how data-sharing policy should be
developed to ensure proper transparency, scrutiny and
accountability. The terms of reference are set out in full at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/announcement_231107a.htm.