The UK’s data protection watchdog has revealed that the number of complaints against public and private organisations over data handling rose by 30% to 33,234 in the last twelve months.
"We’ve never been busier," said Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said in a statement accompanying the report. “Respect for information rights is not optional. Organisations that ignore their responsibilities will not only lose the confidence and trust of citizens and consumers but could face painful enforcement action from the ICO as well.”
In its annual report, the Information Commissioner’s Office said that nearly a third (28%) of complaints concerned ‘subject access requests’, whereby an individual asks an organisation to reveal what data about them it holds.
The ICO’s report also showed that a total of 464 data security breaches were reported by UK organisations in the 2009/10 year. As a result, 57 undertakings – whereby the ICO and affected organisation agree steps for future compliance – were obtained, 21 of which came from NHS trusts and 13 from local authorities.
Launching the report, Graham called for the ICO to be given greater independence from the Ministry of Justice, arguing it should be directly responsible to Parliament, which he believes will increase the transparency surrounding the ICO’s reporting. “[We need] some significant internal changes to ensure we are best placed to deal with the increasing demands and expectations placed upon us,” he claimed.
Earlier this year, the ICO increased the the maximum payable fine for organisations that breach data security regulations to £500,000, although as of yet the regulator has yet to impose a penalty of this magnitude.