Is the ICO fit for purpose?

Is the ICO fit for purpose?

10:53 AM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago 20

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The information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has serious questions to answer. The National Landlords alliance has written to her on behalf of its members and with respect to two specific complaints by members one of whom is an elected public official.

The ICO has attempted to fob off the Alliance. Our message for Ms Denham is quite simple. Do the job please.

By way of background:  The Alliance, having studied various Council licensing schemes around the country, has uncovered hard evidence that Local Authorities are breaching GDPR regulations on a wholesale scale. For the purpose of this article, we will confine ourselves to Sefton Council.

On its landlord application this authority demands addresses of properties owned by the landlord applicant in other boroughs. If the Council wanted to check with other authorities with respect to a landlords conduct, perhaps this might be acceptable. but it is an abuse to demand addresses of landlords properties licensed elsewhere.

Sefton quote HMO regs as a justification for obtaining this information. Irrespective of that this is a clear GDPR breach demanding excessive information. If readers are not convinced yet, then look at what follows. The authority as per GDPR has a duty to maintain the data held as current and up to date. If a landlord disposes of his holdings outside of Sefton or purchases a property in Devon or London, the Council will not have the relevant data on file, unless the landlord decides to become involved in assisting Sefton remain GDPR compliant by updating them every time he purchases or sells a property. There is no legal obligation on him to do so.

Therefore,the Council  from the outset are placing themselves in a position where they breach GDPR and Sefton by demanding this data have already done so.

Are the ICO grossly incompetent or is the Information Commissioner trying to protect the council? Either way these authorities are very quick to come down like a ton of bricks on the public, but when the shoe is on the other foot we see how slow they are to prosecute their tax payer funded pals.

Meanwhile the other landlord associations are too busy flogging courses or publishing Shelter poetry, to take up this baton.

Landlords for real representation, join the Alliance >>

Finally Ms Denham, do your job or resign.

Image credits to Total Shape

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Neil Patterson

9:37 AM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago

I agree Larry, If there is a genuine reseason for requiring the information to carry out their duties then it must be accurate.

Or they need to prove the information is only relevant for the date of the application and why and landlords can ask for that information to then be deleted from their records as no longer required.

Alan Bromley

11:44 AM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago

My own, albeit limited experience of the ICO complaints system, suggests that commercial interests - and presumably government interests - override any desire to protect the personal information of UK citizen. GDPR is a box-ticking exercise, muich the same way as cookie 'approval' is on websites. There is no privacy in the UK if you have money or hold a position of power. Discuss!

Peter Fredericks

13:25 PM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago

Salford City Council are a major culprit in repeatedly failing to answer Subject Access Requests under the former/pre-GDPR Data Protection Act requirements and ignoring the ICO.
They also ask for ludicrous things that breach civil rights to privacy with their landlord l.icensing scheme. Underlying all this though is the UK's antiquated laughing stock constitutional arrangements... no written constitution setting out our rights as citizens, no proper one person one equal vote electoral system so we can vote out these dismal establishment politicians and so on.


13:52 PM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago

We've had dealings with the ICO over a long period of time with a complex complaint involving a number of public bodies. These dealings led us to an expensive and fruitless attempt to secure a Judicial Review against the ICO. The use by the ICO of Section 50(2) of the Freedom of Information Act, by which a complainant can have their case binned without explanation and without any right of appeal or recourse, tells you a great deal about the ICO - and it's not pretty. It's not until you plumb the depths at considerable cost that you realise there is actually nothing you can do and nowhere you can go. Apologies for the bleakness of this message. All good wishes to Property118 members for the year ahead. You're doing a great job - thank you.

Luke P

14:37 PM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago

I had a very solid case with the ICO (against North East Lincolnshire Council) and they were initially on my side...because it was clear I was right. After enough time speaking with NELC, they completely flip-reversed and basically shut me down.

I’m sure they work together.

I know we moan about councils/government a lot, but they really are utterly, utterly incompetent and don’t think the rules apply to them (probably because they get a bit too used to playing the role as 'the only sheriff in town’) and simply cannot function if they’re a brought to account by a snivelling member of the peasantry.

Larry Sweeney

14:54 PM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago

The reality is that the Alliance is in posession now of a file relating to data breaches by certain councils. We have the evidence. How can Sefton keep data on properties purchased or disposed of by landlords, when those properties are not in Sefton, unless landlords tell Sefton everytime they complete a property transaction. The ICO and Sefton together by promoting GDPR breaches are denying landlords their licences. Landlords could not proceed as they would be colluding with Sefton to breach GDPR regulations. We do not under any circumstances condone law breaking ,that includes schemes to contravene GDPR regulations. Bad Enough Sefton ,but now the Information Comissioner covering for Sefton is beyond the pale. Ms Denham needs to step in and resolve this or Step down. The latter looks a better option at this stage ,as one of our complainaints is an Alliance member and publically elected official. The Alliance is compiling a file on several local authorities but we want to see this Sefton issue addressed as it would be inappropiate to disclose our evidence at this point, where the current management are either grossly inept or worse. This story will run.


15:28 PM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 07/01/2019 - 14:37
I agree with you about incompetence Luke, but it is more disturbing than that. The deeper you go the more you realise that all these bodies back each other up against complainants i.e. the individual citizen. Until you've been there you don't understand what is going on, whether complaints involve the NHS, Government Departments, Ombudsmen or other public bodies. The dark side of this country I'm afraid. My husband, who went through the nightmare, which involved the most senior of individuals, lost all confidence in the institutions of this country. He felt it had all the appearances of corruption -that's how bad it felt to him, rightly or wrongly.


15:30 PM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago

I can appreciate that it's hard to grasp the content of the GDPR without reading it, but there seems to be no case here.

From GDPR Article 6:
1. Processing shall be lawful only if and to the extent that at least one of the following applies:
(e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller;
4. Where the processing for a purpose other than that for which the personal data have been collected is not based
on the data subject's consent or on a Union or Member State law which constitutes a necessary and proportionate
measure in a democratic society to safeguard the objectives referred to in Article 23(1), the controller shall, in order to
ascertain whether processing for another purpose is compatible with the purpose for which the personal data are
initially collected, take into account, inter alia:

To try and argue that this wasn't an exercise of official authority would be madness, and the council can use the information for anything related (if it meets 6.4's tests). The ICO was right to throw this out.

Larry Sweeney

15:48 PM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago

Re comment by Mrmr93. Incorrect. GDPR regs are clear. Data collected must not be excessive. A local authority asking for addresses of properties outside of their borough is indeed excessive. Re the second point, How can the council maintain this data as accurate and up to date. The landlord fills out the initial application providing this info ,but 6 months later sells or disposes of a property in another borough. There is no law mandating that he should inform every council in the country of his aquisitions/disposals therefore the data held will not be current leaving the council in clear breach.
Most Tellingly neither Sefton nor their ICO pals could tell the Alliance when tasked ,how the Council could keep the data current and up to date. The public deserve an answer. Why have Sefton and the ICO failed to explain to the Alliance and both landlords how this data will be maintained current as per GDPR legislation. Their silence is very strange indeed.

Annie Landlord

16:00 PM, 7th January 2019, About 5 years ago

I can see this going the same way as your anti Shelter campaign:(
It would be helpful to see some evidence. When people ask on Twitter (erm, you do know that blocking people doesn't stop them from reading and commenting?) the response is always along the lines of 'we will provide an update later'
This one is particularly troubling. If true, can you post a link?
"#MondayMotivation Huge thank you to the concerned member of the public who informed us of the #Employmenttribunal ruling against #Shelter the housing charity who house nobody. Guilty of harassement and unfair dismissal of a vunerable employee. Lovely #Charity indeed."
And how many is a flood?
"Information flooding in to the Alliance from all over the country about the #Informationcomissioner and their failure to investigate #Data breaches by #Localauthorities. Email us any cases. We want a #publicenquiry into the handling by the #ICO of the Sefton case. @ICOnews."
The ICO certainly does get things wrong. Can you post the reply you've had from them?

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