Some councillors have been asking questions about registering with the Information Commissioner (ICO). Some Frequently Asked Questions are below.
A key caveat on all this is that different councils are approaching supporting their councillors with registration in different ways, so if you are in any doubt, speak with your legal officer at your authority for guidance and clarification.
Registering with the ICO
You may have seen that councillors have an obligation to register as “Data Controllers” with the ICO. It is your personal obligation to register and failure to do so may result in enforcement action being taken against you personally by the ICO.
What does the law say?
The Data Protection Act 1998 requires every data controller who is processing personal information to register with the ICO.
The ICO issued advice for elected and prospective councillors to set out councillors’ notification requirements – paragraph 10, page 5. This sets out when a councillor needs to register.
There is an exemption from registration where the only personal information which is processed takes the form of paper records (see paragraph 11).
How do I register?
Speak with your legal officer if you haven’t already been contacted by them. There are many examples of councils who are assisting councillors with this (e.g. London Borough of Sutton, Oxfordshire and Essex County Councils register all their members). If your council isn’t able to make this arrangement for you then the advice is to register yourself.
Does this also apply in Scotland?