The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) could struggle to enforce the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act as its budgets are reduced in line with government cuts, according to information commissioner Christopher Graham.
Giving evidence to a home affairs committee on the issues of phone hacking, Graham explained that, while funding for data protection should be untouched as it is based on licences bought by businesses which want to handle data, other areas could be affected.
"The problem arises on the FOI side of the house, where I am funded by grant-in-aid from the Ministry of Justice and, like all public authorities, we are having to take our slice of the cuts," he said.
"We are responding to that constructively, trying to achieve better for less, but the fact is that, if we're asked to do more and more under the transparency and accountability agenda, we'll need more resources to do it."
Graham also said that the ICO's role in investigating the abuse of personal data by journalists through "blagging" is being hindered by exemptions for the press under the Data Protection Act (DPA).
"The DPA, so far as it applies to [hacking], has a very broad exemption for what's called the special purposes - literature, journalism and the arts - and my investigatory powers can be very easily stymied," he said.
"My powers for acquiring information through information notices, investigations and more dramatic stuff like kicking the door down I can't do if there is an exemption for the special purposes, so my role in this area is frankly pretty limited."
The ICO was recently given new powers under the UK's implementation of key EU privacy rules that will allow the watchdog to fine firms up to £500,000 for sending unwanted marketing communications from 25 May.
The group will also be responsible for auditing and investigating telcos and ISPs to check that they comply with new mandatory data breach notification rules that come into force as part of the amendments.
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