The UK has to toughen up on data protection, according to Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

Reding outlined this week how the UK's stance on data protection is too weak and needs to be strengthened in order to meet EU rules.

Specifically, Reding says that the UK needs to give more powers to the Information Commissioner, to allow the ICO easier access to perform spot checks on organisations holding personal data.

Tying up the watchdog

"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," said Reding.

"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 added.

"Having a watchdog with insufficient powers is like keeping your guard dog tied up in the basement."

A spokesperson for the Information Commissioner's Office told PC Pro: "It is important that we have effective data protection regulation to help protect individuals' personal information. We look forward to discussing the Commission's detailed concerns with the Ministry of Justice and providing input into the UK Government's response."

The UK has two months to respond to the ICO's latest requests to toughen up its data protection laws. If it doesn't take sufficient action within that time, then the EU could well take legal action against the UK government.

Facebook has also come under fire from the EU in recent months for its confusing privacy settings and data protection policies.

Via PC Pro