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

Unlocking collaboration: Making software work better together

How to improve collaboration and agility with the right tech

Download now

Four steps to field service excellence

How to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Six things a developer should know about Postgres

Why enterprises are choosing PostgreSQL

Download now

The path to CX excellence for B2B services

The four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Recommended

1Password targets enterprise customers with Secrets Automation
IT infrastructure

1Password targets enterprise customers with Secrets Automation

14 Apr 2021
The definitive guide to IT security
Whitepaper

The definitive guide to IT security

9 Apr 2021
Ubiquiti insider says the company downplayed the severity of a major breach
data breaches

Ubiquiti insider says the company downplayed the severity of a major breach

31 Mar 2021
Forex broker FBS leaves millions of customer records exposed
data breaches

Forex broker FBS leaves millions of customer records exposed

25 Mar 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

8 Apr 2021
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro review: Champagne tastes on a lemonade budget
Mobile Phones

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro review: Champagne tastes on a lemonade budget

13 Apr 2021