Privacy Advisor

UK—ICO Outlines New Approach to Data Protection Complaints

January 28, 2014

By Brian Davidson, CIPP/E

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a consultation document setting out potential changes to its current complaint-handling system. 

The ICO states that increasing awareness of information rights in the UK and a consequent increase in the volume of inquiries it receives means that it now wishes to be able to focus its resources on those investigations where it suspects that serious contraventions of the Data Protection Act are occurring or where organisations are repeatedly making mistakes.

The ICO cites instances where “Too often we are drawn into adjudicating on individual disputes between organisations and their customers or clients, particularly where the legislation we oversee may only be a peripheral part of the matter being disputed.” In such instances, the ICO identifies a lack of awareness being displayed by organisations and individuals with respect to their information rights and obligations, which in turn makes complaints more likely. It is in such instances that the ICO wants to focus on supporting the engagement of both parties in such disputes and improve information-rights practices so that the complaining individual can deal directly with the organisation and avoid unnecessary concerns being raised with the ICO.

The ICO plans to change its complaint-handling procedures from 1 April, and the consultation closes on 31 January.

Brian Davidson, CIPP/E, is a privacy and information law advisor at Field Fisher Waterhouse, LLP.