Functions of the Commissioner

The Information Commissioner is the independent authority responsible for upholding the public's information rights and promoting and enforcing compliance with the Island's information rights legislation, which includes the data protection legislation, the Unsolicited Communications Regulations and the Freedom of Information Act.

The data protection legislation balances an individual’s right to privacy with the legitimate needs of businesses and organisations to process personal information and sets out the Commissioner's functions which include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring and enforcing the legislation
  • Promoting public awareness and understanding of the risks, rules and safeguards and rights in relation to processing of personal data
  • Promoting awareness of controllers and processors of their obligations under the legislation
  • Provide information to data subjects, on request, about their rights
  • Handle complaints lodged by data subjects
  • Conduct investigations
  • International cooperation

The Unsolicited Communications Regulations 2005 govern unsolicited direct marketing by electronic mail (including SMS), telephone and fax. The Commissioner's functions include dealing with complaints about unsolicited direct marketing and taking enforcement action if necessary.

The Freedom of Information Act 2015 imposes duties and responsibilities on the Information Commissioner which include:

  • promoting good practice by public authorities in connection with FOIA
  • providing the public with information about FOIA, good practice, and the functions of public authorities
  • providing the public with information about the function of the Information Commissioner
  • reviewing decisions made by public authorities in respect of FOIA requests at the request of the applicant

The Information Commissioner has enforcement measures available to him in respect of public authorities' compliance with the requirements of FOIA.

The Code of Practice on Access to Government Information is a non-statutory code providing individuals with a right to ask for official government information and contains a right of appeal against the decision of the Department or other body for the individual, via a Member of Tynwald, to the Information Commissioner.  

The Commissioner deals with complaints made by individuals under these instruments and, where necessary (and permitted) will take regulatory action.

Details of the regulatory actions are set out in the 'complaint handling' section.

The Information Commissioner is also a 'prescribed person' under the Employment Act to whom employees may make 'protected disclosures' regarding their employer's compliance with the data protection legislation or Freedom of Information Act. Guidance is available below.