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The UK Information Commissioner's Office is an independent authority established to promote access to official information and to protect personal information. Its main functions are educating and influencing (promote good practice and give information and advice), resolving problems (resolve complaints from people who think their rights have been breached) and enforcing (use legal sanctions against those who ignore or refuse to accept their obligations).
The ICO has the power to:
- conduct assessments to check whether organizations are complying with the applicable Act;
- serve information notices requiring organizations to provide the ICO with specified information within a certain time period;
- serve enforcement notices and "stop now" orders if there has been a breach of an Act, requiring organizations to take (or refrain from taking) specified steps in order to ensure they are complying with the law;
- prosecute those who commit criminal offenses under the applicable Act;
- conduct audits to assess whether an organization's processing of personal data follows good practice; and
- report to Parliament on data protection issues of concern.
The ICO has authored several reports summarized in this wiki: