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Information Commissioner's Office
Ico logo.jpg
Status Governmental office
Territory United Kingdom
Leadership Information Commissioner: Christopher Graham
Appointment 29 June 2009
Founded 1984 (Data Protection Registrar)
HQ Wilmslow, Cheshire

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in the United Kingdom, is a non-departmental public body which reports directly to Parliament and is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. It is the independent regulatory office dealing with the Data Protection Act 1998 across the UK; and the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and, to a limited extent, in Scotland.


Role of the Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner is an independent official appointed by the Crown. The Commissioner's decisions are subject to the supervision of the Courts and the Information Tribunal. The Office's mission is to "uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals".[1]

During the tenure of Richard Thomas as Commissioner, the ICO was particularly noted for raising serious concerns over the Government's proposed British national identity card and database, as well as other similar databases such as the Citizen Information Project, Universal Child Database, and the NHS National Programme for IT, stating that the country is in danger of sleepwalking into a surveillance society,[2] drawing attention to the misuse of such information by the former states of the Eastern bloc and Franco's Spain. The position of Information Commissioner is currently held by Christopher Graham, who took over from Richard Thomas on 29 June 2009.


Data Protection Act 1998

The United Kingdom as a member of the European Union is subject to a strict regime of Data Protection. The Data Protection Act 1984 created the post of Data Protection Registrar with whom people processing personal data had to register. Under the provisions of EC Directive 95/46 (introduced in the UK as the Data Protection Act 1998, rather than as an SI under the European Communities Act 1972) the name of the post was changed to Data Protection Commissioner.

You can search the register of data controllers at the website of the ICO, which also gives links to his counterparts around Europe.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the Commissioner's role was expanded to include freedom of information and the job title was changed to Information Commissioner ('IC'). The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 is the domain of the Scottish Information Commissioner and is aimed at public bodies administered by the Scottish Parliament (which are not covered by the UK Act).

List of Information Commissioners

Similar roles in Europe

The role of the IC is mirrored throughout the countries of the European Union and European Economic Area who have equivalent officials created under their versions of Directive 95/46.

See also


  1. ^ "Information Commissioner's Office". Information Commissioner's Office. Retrieved 7 January 2010. "The Information Commissioner’s Office is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals"  
  2. ^ Patrick Foster, Big Brother surveillance means no one is safe, experts warn, The Times, March 27, 2007, accessed September 16, 2007
  3. ^ McNally, Paul (2009-01-13). "Christopher Graham is new Information Commissioner". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2009-01-13. "The Ministry of Justice has selected Advertising Standards Authority director general Christopher Graham to replace Richard Thomas as Information Commissioner."  
  4. ^ "Written Ministerial Statement - Appointment of Information Commissioner". The official site of the Prime Minister’s Office. 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-05-19. "Her Majesty The Queen has approved the appointment of Mr Christopher Graham as the next Information Commissioner with effect from 29 June 2009 for a period of 5 years."  

External links


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