Session 2008-09, 5 December 2008

Publication of Special Report

Publication of Special Report

Information Commissioner’s response to the Committee’s Report on A Surveillance Society?

The Committee today published the Information Commissioner’s formal response to the Committee’s Report on A Surveillance Society? (Second Special Report of Session 2007-08, HC 1124).

The Commissioner takes into account in his response the Government’s reply to the Committee’s report (published by the Home Office in July as Cm 7449).

Committee Chairman Keith Vaz MP said:

“We welcome the Information Commissioner’s endorsement of our approach to this important subject and his positive reaction to our recommendation that his Office take on an enhanced role in relation to monitoring the growth of surveillance and surveillance potential.

On 17 June the Prime Minister announced that he would accept our recommendation that the Information Commissioner produce an annual report on surveillance and that the Government present its response to Parliament for an annual debate. The Government’s  reply to our report said that the ground rules we proposed “set out the parameters for maintaining transparency and openness”, that the Government was “committed to ensuring that information is gathered to meet a necessary and specific purpose and that it is shared only where required and justified”, and that “the Government does not believe in the mass collection of personal data”.

Whilst we were glad to receive these assurances, the Government did not engage with all of our recommendations and the Committee will take every opportunity to test the Government’s commitment to the principles we have set out as the Home Office develops new proposals on the collection and retention of personal  data. In these circumstances we are particularly grateful for the Information Commissioner’s continued support and sustained focus on these issues.”