European Commission says UK needs to toughen up on data protection -

The European Commission has said it wants tighter data protection in the UK to ensure it meets EU rules and it's given it two weeks to come up with ideas.

The EC said the current protection rules in the UK are insufficient, and said it's like "keeping your guard dog tied up in the basement."

According to the EC Britain's data protection watchdog lacks a number of key powers. This includes being unable to monitor whether third countries' data protection is adequate, perform random checks on people using or processing personal data and enforcing penalties following the checks.

It also doesn't like the fact that courts in the UK can still refuse demands to have personal data corrected or erased.

It now wants the Information Commissioner to have more powers and wants to introduce new rules to allow the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) to perform spot checks on organisations holding personal data.

Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, told TechEye: "Data protection authorities have the crucial and delicate task of protecting the fundamental right to privacy. EU rules require that the work of data protection authorities must not be unbalanced by the slightest hint of legal ambiguity. I will enforce this vigorously.

"I urge the UK to change its rules swiftly so that the data protection authority is able to perform its duties with absolute clarity about the rules," she said.

A representative for the ICO said that it "looked forward to discussing The Commission's concerns with the Ministry of Justice and providing input into the government's response."

"It is important that we have effective data protection regulation to help protect individuals' personal information," she added.