Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Bournemouth, UK
UK Government To Check On Web Privacy Compliance
The U.K. Information Commissioner's office, formerly known as the Data Protection Registrar, says it will check on data protection compliance at various Web sites.
The project will take in results from around 130 U.K. Web sites and should be completed by May, said Ian Bourne, the government agency manager in charge of the project. Researchers either will telephone, or visit Web site companies in person to discuss compliance issues.
"There are a number of aspects to the research. The plan is for the researchers to look at those Web sites they can identify as being U.K.-based and assess their compliance with data protection legislation," Bourne told Newsbytes.
The aim of the project is to assess the sites' compliance with the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act, as well as generate awareness among U.K. site operators of their legal obligations.
Bourne said that there have been a number of previous surveys into U.K. Web site compliance with data protection legislation. But commercial interests conducted those and they had a number of flaws, he said.
"We're planning to go beyond simply checking for a 'glossy data protection statement' on a Web site," he said. "To do this, researchers will use telephone and face-to-face interviews, backing up their interviews with mystery shopper techniques, rather than take what the sites say at face value."
Tarlo Lyons, a London-based law firm specializing in information technology, has given a cautious thumbs-up on the project, saying all British Web sites should have complied with the Data Protection Act by Oct. 24, 2001.
The law firm says that Web companies should ensure individuals' data security and notify people about how sites will use their data.
Other issues that sites need to address under the legislation include providing information about the data controller within the organization concerned, and where appropriate, informing users when their consent is needed for data being transferred abroad, Tarlo Lyons says.
The Information Commissioner's Web site is at http://www.dataprotection.gov.uk .
Tarlo Lyons' Web site is at http://www.tarlolyons.com.