MPs turn on the ICO over contact-tracing fiasco

Open Rights Group says there is "something rotten at the heart of the ICO" for not acting on the government's "unlawful behaviour"

More than 20 MPs across four political parties have accused the UK's data regulator of failing to hold the government to account over privacy failures in the NHS Test and Trace system. 

The politicians want the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham to consider fining the government after it admitted that it failed to conduct a legally required impact assessment on privacy, according to The Guardian.

A letter signed by 22 MPs suggests the government should receive a penalty "if it fails to adhere to the standards which the ICO is responsible for upholding".

Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper, one of the letter's signatories, said the government had "seemingly played fast and loose with data protection measures" during the pandemic. 

"The public needs a data regulator with teeth: the ICO must stop sitting on its hands and start using its powers - to assess what needs to change and enforce those changes - to ensure that the government is using people's data safely and legally," she said.

The letter was arranged by the Open Rights Group, which successfully forced the government to admit its failure to perform a data protection impact assessment. It features signatures from the Labour, the Lib Dems, Green and Scottish National Parties. 

"There is something rotten at the heart of the ICO that makes them tolerate government's unlawful behaviour," said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group.

"The ICO is a public body, funded by the taxpayers, and accountable to parliament. They must now sit up, listen and act. As a regulator, ICO must ensure that the government upholds the law."

In July, the government conceded that its contract-tracing programme had been operating unlawfully since it launched on 28 May. In a letter to campaigners, a government solicitor stated that NHS Track and Trace was developed at such pace and scale that it wasn't anywhere close to a primary focus.

"The Johnson government brought this programme forward more quickly than was practical, and we are all paying the consequences. Privacy is fundamental to trust," said Clive Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich South.

Featured Resources

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

Download now

Evaluate your order-to-cash process

15 recommended metrics to benchmark your O2C operations

Download now

AI 360: Hold, fold, or double down?

How AI can benefit your business

Download now

Getting started with Azure Red Hat OpenShift

A developer’s guide to improving application building and deployment capabilities

Download now

Recommended

Misconfigured Git servers lead to Nissan data leak
hacking

Misconfigured Git servers lead to Nissan data leak

7 Jan 2021
BackupAssist teams with Wasabi to offer cheaper backup for businesses
backup

BackupAssist teams with Wasabi to offer cheaper backup for businesses

6 Jan 2021
Data: A resource much too valuable to leave unprotected
Whitepaper

Data: A resource much too valuable to leave unprotected

2 Dec 2020
Webhose and Signal Corp boost data breach detection
Security

Webhose and Signal Corp boost data breach detection

7 Oct 2020

Most Popular

SolarWinds hackers hit Malwarebytes through Microsoft exploit
hacking

SolarWinds hackers hit Malwarebytes through Microsoft exploit

20 Jan 2021
How to recover deleted emails in Gmail
email delivery

How to recover deleted emails in Gmail

6 Jan 2021
What is a 502 bad gateway and how do you fix it?
web hosting

What is a 502 bad gateway and how do you fix it?

12 Jan 2021