The UK's data privacy watchdog has revealed that it plans to hire more computer experts, after conceding that it needs to bolster its technical expertise in a bid to deal with new statutory responsibilities and advances in technology.
A public meeting held on Saturday to discuss issues surrounding data protection concluded that the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) needs more technical expertise if it is to police the growing number of databases holding UK citizens' private data.
Questions raised in a discussion called 'Business Gets Personal, Can Privacy Have a Future?' highlighted the huge volume of data being collected, and whether this should be of concern to citizens.
Chairing the discussion was Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group. He said that David Smith, deputy Information Commissioner, was asked why the ICO had not hired more computer science graduates to bolster its expertise.
Smith replied that the ICO is looking at getting such expertise in the future, which an ICO spokesman has now confirmed in a statement.
"We do intend to recruit additional expertise, as and when budgets allow, to ensure we have the right skill mix among our staff," said the spokesman.
"We are currently liaising with the Ministry of Justice on the appropriate tiers for notification fees, which will enable us to increase our staffing in line with new statutory responsibilities, and keep pace with advances in technology."
'Notification' is a statutory obligation laid out in the Data Protection Act which requires every organisation that processes personal information to notify the ICO of their doing so and pay a related fee.
Killock said the discussion on Saturday questioned whether the notification fees paid to the ICO are fair, or are simply a "tax".
The ICO's lack of inspection powers was also discussed, as was the fact that the ICO will get stop-check inspection powers over public sector bodies, but not private sector companies, owing to "various omnibus clauses" in the Coroners' Bill, he said.
Geoengineering on the sea floor near glaciers would form a new ice shelf to prevent melting
Alterations in capillary blood flow can be caused by body position change
Curiosity rover is in 'normal mode' but not transmitting scientific data back to base
NatWest outage comes a day after Barclays' IT systems shut out customers and staff