The public has woken up to the potential of their personal data, the Information Commissioner has said as the ICO’s annual report for 2018-19 was published. Elizabeth Denham also said it covered an ‘unprecedented’ year for the regulator.
Ms Denham continued:
“The ICO has covered an enormous amount of ground over the last year – from the introduction of a new data protection law, to our calls to change the freedom of information law, from record-setting fines to a record number of people raising data protection concerns.
“The biggest moment of the year was the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force. This saw people wake up to the potential of their personal data, leading to greater awareness of the role of the regulator when their data rights aren’t being respected. The doubling of concerns raised with our office reflects that.”
Highlights from 12 months to 31 March 2019 include:
Helping the public and organisations
- The ICO’s helpline, chat and written advice services received 471,224 contacts in 2018-19, a 66% increase from 2017/18 (283,727 contacts)
- Data protection complaints received by the ICO increased from 21,019 in 2017/18 to 41,661 in 2018/19
- Supporting the public through the ICO’s many expanded public-facing services (like the helpline and live text service)
- Helping organisations, small or large, embed the GDPR and DPA 2018
- Preparation of statutory codes focusing on age appropriate design, data sharing, direct marketing, and data protection and journalism.
Enforcing the law
- Using new powers of inspection – issuing 11 assessment notices in conjunction with our investigations into data analytics for political purposes, political parties, data brokers, credit reference agencies and others
- Taking action through enforcement notices
- Issuing warnings and reprimands across a range of sectors including health, central government, criminal justice, education, retail and finance
- 2018/19 was a record-breaking year of monetary penalties under the DPA 1998.
In May 2017 we launched a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes, after allegations were made about the ‘invisible processing’ of personal data and the micro-targeting of political adverts during the 2016 EU referendum. The investigation eventually broadened and has become the largest investigation of its type by any data protection authority.
The investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes was not our only major investigation during 2018/19. We devoted considerable resources to wide ranging investigations, led by our new High Priority Investigations and Intelligence Directorate. Case studies of some of these investigations are set out in the report.
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent regulator for data protection and information rights law, upholding information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. It has its head office in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and regional offices in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA2018), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and a further five Acts / Regulations.
- The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new data protection law which applies in the UK from 25 May 2018. Its provisions are included in the Data Protection Act 2018. The Act also includes measures related to wider data protection reforms in areas not covered by the GDPR, such as law enforcement and security.
- The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
- Since 25 May 2018, the ICO has the power to impose a civil monetary penalty (CMP) on a data controller of up to £17million (20m Euro) or 4% of global turnover. The maximum under the Data Protection Act 1998 was £500,000. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by ICO.
- Previous ICO annual reports can be read on our website at https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/our-information/annual-reports.