Just what is the Information Commission for?
When the Google data harvesting was first exposed, the ICO indicated that there was little to worry about stating that:
"It is unlikely that Google will have captured significant amounts of personal data".
Only a few weeks ago, it subsequently emerged that Google had not only mapped people's personal Wi-Fi's, but also their email addresses and computer passwords.
Yet, in a Telegraph newspaper interview last week, the Commissioner still just says "Hang on, what is the scale of Google's offence? The company was collecting information about the position of wifi networks to make their geo location stuff work".
It is true that following the Parliamentary debate on this subject, and sustained pressure from Parliamentarians, the ICO has U-Turned on this position, suddenly announcing on 3 November, that Google had now committed a significant breach of the Data Protection act, would be subject to an audit and have to sign an undertaking to ensure that data protection breaches do not happen again.
This was despite the fact that the ICO issued a statement on the Google Street View issue just two days earlier (1 November), stating that "we will not be panicked into a 'knee-jerk' response to an alarmist agenda"!
But this whole episode has exposed serious flaws in the working of the Information Commission and is why I tabled more than fifty Commons Questions about the workings of the ICO to the Justice Ministry.
Some of the answers given thus far, raise even further questions:
Why is it that only one member of the Information Commissioner's Office has attended formal training on internet/computer related crime since 2008?
- Why did the ICO not send experts with technical training to Google to investigate the data breach?
- Why have the ICO felt the need to spend £13 million in the last ten years on PR/Marketing/Communications - but can't find the right resources to investigate breaches of our data protection?
- Why did the ICO feel the need to spend £10,000 on 'refreshments' in 2008 or the Management Board need to spend £10,000 plus on taxis in the last two years?
The ICO describes itself as "the UK's independent authority... promoting openness for public bodies and data privacy for individuals".
As the Google Street view saga has shown, the organisation has failed in this lamentably. It is no longer fit for purpose and needs fundamental reform.