Notification is a statutory requirement and every organisation that processes personal information must notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), unless they are exempt. Failure to notify is a criminal offence.
Notification is the process by which a data controller gives the ICO details about their processing of personal information. The ICO publishes certain details in the register of data controllers, which is available to the public for inspection.
The principle purpose of having notification and the public register is transparency and openness. It is a basic principle of data protection that the public should know (or should be able to find out) who is carrying out the processing of personal information as well as other details about the processing (such as for what reason it is being carried out).
Notification, therefore, serves the interests of individuals in assisting them to understand how personal information is being processed by data controllers.
It is not, however, intended and (nor is it practicable) that the register should contain very detailed information about a data controller’s processing. The aim is to keep the content at a general level, with sufficient detail to give an overall picture of the processing. More detail is only necessary to satisfy specific statutory requirements or where there is particular sensitivity.
The register contains the name and address of data controllers and a description of the kind of processing they do.
You can search the register here.
ICO consultation - Privacy Impact Assessment on the data protection register
The ICO is required by law to make the register available for inspection and does this via the ICO website. We are currently exploring the possibility of making the register available to be downloaded in its entirety, in a reusable format. There will be some benefits from this, but there are also data protection considerations.
The views of those who use the register are an important part of the ICO’s privacy impact assessment. If you are interested in sharing your views on this, please visit our consultations page.