Then to the Home Office for discussions on the Government's interception modernisationprogramme, the proposal to require internet service providers to keep records of all email,text and mobile phone traffic - in case it's needed to solve crime or prevent terrorism. It'snot suggested that the messages themselves could be accessed by the authorities. Butwho's talking to who, where and when can be significant. The trouble is, are the privacysafeguards sufficient to overcome the concerns we raised over a year ago? I remain to beconvinced that the authorities have made the case.Tomorrow we'll be welcoming back some old friends to Wilmslow for the officialinauguration of our new building. Doing the honours for the landlord will be the local MPGeorge Osborne, who just happens to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer. FormerCommissioners Eric Howe and Liz France will be joining us, as will former non-executivemember of the Management Board David Clarke and two of our current NEDS, Neil Masonand Enid Rowlands. Watch out too for recently retired Assistant Commissioner Phil Jones.We're a bit thin on the ground what with half-term and the international data protectionconference going on in Jerusalem. Please help the ICO to give a good impression to ourguests. Naturally, we'll be showing our visitors who we are and what we do. Anopportunity to showcase a modern, efficient and effective regulator, at the forefront of developments in technology, focused on our customer and stakeholders, and up to speedon the public policy issues around transparency and accountability.We might even get T.S. Eliot's spelling right by Friday. If not, it's a question of spot thedeliberate mistake.
The Chancellor George Osborne has been unveiling the details of the ComprehensiveSpending Review (CSR), described as the biggest programme of public spending cuts fordecades. This is how the ICO is placed following today’s news.Three-quarters of the ICO’s income comes from notification fees paid by data controllers.These pay for our data protection work. But we also receive grant-in-aid from the Ministryof Justice (MOJ) for our freedom of information responsibilities. We have to keep the twostreams of income separate, although our overheads are ‘apportioned’ between FOI andDP.In 2010/11, we have baseline funding from the MOJ of £5 million plus an additional £0.5million to help us address the FOI backlog. We’ve already had to lop off £160k of thisfollowing the emergency budget. Any further savings we can make this year can be carriedforward against the anticipated cuts required over the four years 2010/11 to 2013/14. Bycontrast, our income from notification fees is forecast to be some £15 million.We do not have a figure yet for how much we shall need to save from grant-in-aid overthe period. But we do know that the MOJ was one of the losers in the CSR – with anaverage 6% to be saved each year for four years – while some other departments werespared the worst of the cuts. That said, we are a pretty small minnow in the MOJ pond.It’s important to remember that our DP income continues to grow and the tierednotification fee has given us the resources to carry out our expanded responsibilities. Sowe are in a better position today than many equivalent public bodies.Nevertheless, we have to plan for how the ICO can navigate the choppy waters ahead.My ET colleagues and I have been thinking ahead to enable the ICO to respond to today’sdevelopments.