Privacy Advisor

Global Privacy Dispatches- UK- Data Protection Act

December 1, 2007

By Eduardo Ustaran

Foreign Office in Breach of the Data Protection Act

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has found the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in breach of the Data Protection Act following an investigation into the online application facility for UK visas.

The ICO was alerted to a potential security breach at the Web site by Channel 4 News, prompting the ICO to immediately launch an investigation into the site. The security breach meant that the personal data of people applying for visas to enter the UK was visible to others visiting the Web site. The FCO cooperated fully with the ICO during the course of the investigation and provided the ICO with an independent report into the breach. However, the ICO has now required the FCO to sign a formal undertaking to comply with the principles of the Data Protection Act. Failure to meet the terms of the undertaking is likely to lead to further enforcement action by the ICO.