Saturday, 19 March 2011

UK data protection register to be opened up further?

Just saw, the ICO are consulting on allowing their entire Data Protection Register to be downloaded "in a reusable format", in the spirit of open data and transparency. Respond by emailing consultations@ico.gsi.gov.uk - closing date 31 March 2011.

This register has info about those who've registered with the UK Information Commissioner's Office as "data controllers" of personal data. (Not the details contained in the personal data which they control, just limited info about the controllers themselves.) You can currently search the Data Protection Register online. For example here's the info on Google UK and Google Inc.

The consultation is about the impact which making the whole register downloadable as a single data set would have on individuals on the register, where the ICO say -

However, a number of entries on the register relate to individuals, such as sole traders, and there are therefore data protection considerations. For example, is it fair that data collected for a statutory purpose is made available in a form that could make it more widely available and usable?

We want your views on what the impact on individuals would be if the register was available to download as a dataset, in a re-usable format, in its entirety.

Personally I think the requirement for notification / registration is somewhat red-tapish, as the info in the register's not that informative and yet it's a hassle and cost for those who have to register, but the law is what the law is.

I didn't spot any consultation on the format that they plan to use. I wonder what format that will be?

Responses will be published but if you think your response is confidential, explain why and they'll consider that if they are asked to reveal it, but can't guarantee to keep it confidential. Though

….The ICO will process your personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and in the majority of circumstances this will mean that your personal information will not be disclosed to third parties.

Just as an aside - I'm never clear when I see references to closing dates of "X" - do they mean before X? On X? By close of business on X? I'm probably being A-type here, but personally I would like all consultations to say, "by 17.30 GMT on X".

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