The information commissioner is to be given the ability to check data governance at public bodies without warning.


Richard Thomas will also be given the power to give out fines to those not up to scratch. Following repeated calls for stronger powers for the Information Commissioner's Office, proposed changes will include the ability to fine both public and private bodies for deliberate or reckless loss of data.


The office will also be able to enter any government organisation to check procedures without warning, but will need a warrant to view the data they hold.


Justice Secretary Jack Straw, said: “The changes we propose today will strengthen the information commissioner's ability to enforce the Data Protection Act and improve the transparency and accountability of organisations dealing with personal information. This is very important if we are to regain public confidence in the handling and sharing of personal information.


“As new technologies have developed, the secure storage and careful sharing of personal information held by both the public and private sectors has become paramount. Strong regulation and clear guidance is essential if we are to ensure the effective protection of personal data.”