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Information commissioner calls for compulsory audits

Information commissioner calls for compulsory audits

Data protection audits must be compulsory in NHS and local government, says information watchdog Christopher Graham

Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, has said that data protection audits must be compulsory in local government and the healthservice to ensure compliance with the law.

 

His call came as figures showed that ICO is being blocked from auditing organisations in sectors that are causing concern over their handling of personal information.

 

Currently, the watchdog’s only compulsory data protection audit powers are for government departments, but data breaches in the NHS continue to be a major problem.

 

The ICO said that of the 47 undertakings it has agreed with organisations that have breached the Data Protection Act since April, more than 40% (19) were in the NHS.

 

The most serious personal data breaches resulting in fines have occurred in local government. Four of the six penalties served so far involved local authorities.

 

However, the private sector generates the most data protection complaints and only 19% of companies contacted by the ICO accepted the offer of undergoing an audit. Graham wants the compulsory powers to extend to the private sector.

 

“Something is clearly wrong when the regulator has to ask permission from the organisations causing us concern before we can audit their data protection practices,” he said.

 

“Helping the healthcare sector, local government and businesses to handle personal data better are top priorities, and yet we are powerless to get in there and find out what is really going on.”

 

This article is published by Guardian Professional. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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