ICO

ICO Contact Number – 0303 123 1113

ICO Helpline – 0303 123 1113

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent authority dealing with data protection and how your personal information is stored and handled. Its remit is to uphold information rights in the public interest by promoting the right of individuals to data privacy, and encouraging openness by public bodies.

The ICO is a non-departmental public body that reports directly to Parliament. It is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It has offices in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; its Head Office is in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

The history and structure of the ICO

The roots of the ICO can be traced back to 1984, when the office of Data Protection Registrar was created in response to the first Data Protection Act. The law required companies processing personal data to be listed on the Register of Data Controllers. This law is still in place today; the ICO still holds the register, which is publicly available on its website.

ICO Telephone Number – 0303 123 1113

As the amount of data held on all of us has grown and diversified into a much wider variety of formats, the remit of the office has widened, growing into what is now the ICO.

The Information Commissioner is appointed by the Crown and the office is supervised by the courts and the Information Tribunal. The Commissioner is advised by a Management Board which develops the long-term strategies of the ICO and monitors its progress. The Board’s decisions are informed by a team of senior managers and committees with different areas of speciality.

The ICO is responsible for upholding several laws:

  • The Data Protection Act
  • The Freedom of Information Act
  • Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations
  • Environmental Information Regulations
  • INSPIRE Regulations
  • Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations.

It works closely with similar organisations in Europe and elsewhere in the world to make sure the personal data of UK citizens is protected.

What the ICO can help with

The ICO offers the UK public help and advice on issues related to the ways in which our personal data is stored and handled. These include:

  • How to request access to the personal information companies hold on you, which is your legal right under the Data Protection Act.
  • How to access information from a public body.
  • Checking your personal information is being handled correctly by organisations that hold it, and how to raise concerns about this.
  • Taking a case to court and claiming compensation.

The ICO can also advise on a wide range of privacy-related issues, such as:

  • Dealing with junk mail, nuisance calls and spam texts.
  • Data held by public bodies including the DVLA and Electoral Register.
  • Personal details and histories such as health, education, credit and police records.
  • How your data is handled online.
  • Image data from CCTV and drones, and how to use these things responsibly and legally.
  • What to do if you suspect identity theft and how to guard against it.
  • Your rights relating to information about you held by the media.

The ICO’s powers and how it handles concerns

The ICO deals with tens of thousands of enquiries and concerns from the public about information rights each year. It records all complaints and then uses them to assess whether or not particular organisations are handling information in a legal and responsible way. It makes suggestions to companies about the ways in which they can improve their data protection and information handling practices.

If the ICO suspects a company is breaking the law relating to personal information handling, it can investigate the company further.

If a company has clearly broken the law, the ICO has the power to enforce measures to make sure the company’s practices improve. In the worst cases, the ICO can impose financial penalties of up to £500,000. It can also prosecute organisations in clear breach of the law, and report areas of particular concern to Parliament.

Contacting the ICO

If you have an enquiry or concern relating to how your personal data is stored and handled by organisations, there are a variety of ways you can contact the ICO, depending upon where you are based in the UK.

England

By post:

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

Helpline: 0303 123 1113 (open Monday-Friday, 9.00am-5.00pm)

Email: casework@ico.org.uk

Scotland

By post:

Information Commissioner’s Office

45 Melville Street

Edinburgh EH3 7HL

Phone: 0131 244 9001

Email: scotland@ico.org.uk

Wales

By post:

Information Commissioner’s Office

2nd Floor

Churchill House

Churchill Way

Cardiff CF10 2HH

Phone: 029 2067 8400

Email: wales@ico.org.uk

Northern Ireland

Information Commissioner’s Office

3rd Floor

14 Cromac Place

Belfast BT7 2JB

Phone: 028 9027 8757 / 0303 123 1114

Email: ni@ico.org.uk

The ICO website also provides live chat with a member of ICO personnel, and various contact forms which you can use for specific purposes such as requests or reporting concerns. These can be found at https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us.