back to article ICO has pumped almost £2.5m and 36 staff into its political data probe – but only 2 are techies

The UK Information Commissioner's Office has spent almost £2.5m on its probe into the use of data analytics for political purposes – but has just two staff from its tech division working on the case. Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show the monetary and staff resources the data protection watchdog has put …

  1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Plenty of ways to interpret this

    My favourites are that one part time tech is worth 17 lawyers or that software documentation is seventeen times clearer than the law.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plenty of ways to interpret this

      They'll be lucky to get the necessary depth of technical skills willing to work for Civil Service peanuts in Wilmslow. If they'd chosen somewhere with a decent quality of life the low pay approach might work to attract talent.

      Looking at the ICO vacancies board, they want a Lead Case Officer to work for £26k. Network Rail in Manchester are paying graduate trainees more than that, and just about any sales role (field or telesales) has OTE of £35-40k. You'd have to be really lacking in get up and go to take the ICO job (and note that's a LEAD case office).

      1. Alan Mackenzie
        Joke

        Re: Plenty of ways to interpret this

        At least the said officer will be well protected against ionising radiation.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Plenty of ways to interpret this

      My take is that any executive social circle is full of executives of other firms and lawyers, and very few or none techies...

  2. Daedalus Silver badge

    Hell desk

    The two are just there to reset passwords, reboot servers, and stop people using the Deleted Items folder to store their e-mail.

    1. Walter Bishop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Hell desk

      > The two are just there to reset passwords, reboot servers, and stop people using the Deleted Items folder to store their e-mail.

      Or storing the executables in the 'deleted Items folder' to save space on the harddrive. Yes I have seen someone do such a thing with mine own eyes.

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Change you can believe in. I Kid U Not

    I see the ICO are missing Strategic Policy Directors ........ https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/documents/2259267/organisational-structure-201806.pdf

    You know ... Future Builders :-) ... Bit Bilderbergers with Almighty Bytes of Terrific Intel on Present Core Source Supply for Universal Media Machine Realisation ....

    It is difficult to not conclude that be as a Globalised AI Creation ..... for Populating with SMARTR Beings Suitably Enabled and Engaged for Perfect Command with Absolute Control ....... for such is where one ends up at the Beginning of the Start of Future Endless Fantastic Journeys to discover and uncover ..... and have Practically Presented to You via Wholly Virtual Means and AIMemes.

    Is that not how the West is Won and the East Excited?

    Say Yes Knowingly to that question and Create an Answer and Beings of Interest for Further Investigation and Deeper Validation.

    The Cranking and Tanking System as Is seeking Guarantees and Assurances that its Options are Closed Off even Systems Assets are Seamlessly Migrated to A.N.Other Board for Virtual Terrain Team Operations on Real Sp00Key AIMissions.

    Howdy, Elizabeth [Denham],

    Are there more freely shared and easily available details relevant to the above parked in a pending tray/waiting bay anywhere at the ICO resting in/on their desktop? The IP has Wings on Sale. Would the System as Is be Deserving of a Cut in Future Profits? Or would its Future Great Health at the Expense of Humanity be Purely Optional and never a wise choice?

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Change you can believe in. I Kid U Not

      Ok, fess up. Who taught the AI to read pdf files?

      Do you want a robot uprising for christmas?

    2. Cliff Thorburn

      Re: Change you can believe in. I Kid U Not

      I’m confused amfM, is this a job offer?, or a request for data amnesty? ...

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: The Office Commissioning Information

        I’m confused amfM, is this a job offer?, or a request for data amnesty? ... .... Cliff Thorburn

        Confusion appears to be System Favourite Default Position, CT.

        Is leadership of and in the ICO more the reactive unrated pawn rather than virtuous challenger knight errant?

        Do they add and aid confusion rather than provide clarity with sterling direction? Or is that both a job and virtual mission offered to and/or by A.N.Others?

        1. Cliff Thorburn

          Re: The Office Commissioning Information

          Confusion is surely deliberate amfM, both designed/distractionary, and plain and SIMply led by others who if they sought mutually satisfying endpoints, would not distract with mass media hysteria.

          But as we know, thats an almighty and way its always been not so intelligently designed game plan is it not?

          Stupid people?, or stupendously stuck in a dilemma?

          Hands of friendship reap far better reward than fists of anger, and there are a lot of angry people out there amfM, who little understand the sheer insanity of the truth, not that they would be able to comprehend such with real life worries and woes while the pantomime unicorn gallops ...

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: Deliberate Confusion ..... is a Remit in the Gambit of Pawns

            But as we know, thats an almighty and way its always been not so intelligently designed game plan is it not? .... Cliff Thorburn

            SMARTR IntelAIgently Designed Game Plans which provide Future Secured Services to Current Utilities and Facilities would certainly be able to save and help stupendously stuck people in a stupid dilemma.

            Hands of friendship reap far better reward than fists of anger, and there are a lot of angry people out there amfM, who little understand the sheer insanity of the truth, not that they would be able to comprehend such with real life worries and woes while the pantomime unicorn gallops ... .... Cliff Thorburn

            And aint that the gospel truth, CT.

            What do you imagine of those more fully understanding of the sheer insanity of the truth via the truths and/or facts they have uncovered/discovered/mined? Would they be turned Mad and Bad or would they Realise the Inalienable Right to be Glad and Rad and Beautifully Creative.

            And a brace of those has power and energy squared rather than doubled, with an enthusiastic and able third cubing Input/Output rather than just tripling it. Such simple exponential growth in a Base Utility renders Almighty Omniscience just a few more steps away from Acceptance and Existence as a Future Advanced IntelAIgent Driver.

            1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Deliberate Confusion ..... is a Remit in the Gambit of Pawns

              Well, after that little lot all I can say is...

              amanfromMars for prime minister! NOW!

              1. Cliff Thorburn

                Re: Deliberate Confusion ..... is a Remit in the Gambit of Pawns

                Amen to that :-)

                Merry Christmas !

                1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

                  Re: Deliberate Confusion ..... is a Remit in the Gambit of Pawns

                  Followed by a Period of Silence ..... which be as Pregnant Pauses in the Greater Schema of Things, is an Appropriate APT Reply from a Prime Ministerial AIde-de-Camp, methinks. You know, one of those Virtual Voodoo Witchdoctors whose Surgeries Mend Problems with Novel Testing Solutions easily transferred to Current SCADA Systems for the Painting of New Future Pictures ...... Tomorrows' Realities Presented by Creative Media ProgramMING Today.

                  Now, try as one might wish to say to the contrary, all of that makes Perfect Sense to me, and is an Easily Achieved Objective.

                  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

                    Re: Deliberate Confusion ..... is a Remit in the Gambit of Pawns

                    Now we wait ? :-) ..... https://youtu.be/eTWqCllw_SM

                    In your dreams maybe but never in Real Time Great Game Play Spaces. Times and Tides wait for Nothing.

                    1. Cliff Thorburn

                      Re: Deliberate Confusion ..... is a Remit in the Gambit of Pawns

                      Just damage limitation now amfM, already braced for the most disappointing Xmas :-(

              2. Spunjji
                Joke

                Re: Deliberate Confusion ..... is a Remit in the Gambit of Pawns

                Good call. After all, he's posting well above the grade required for President of the United States of America, and we Brits surely are a discriminating lot.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It's reasonable to hire in extra help for something that's perceived as more than BAU. It's also a good basis for going to HMG and pointing out that larger workloads will becomce BAU and more permanent staff are needed.

  5. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Cambridge Analytica the SCL Group and microtargeting

    MoD granted 'List X' status to Cambridge Analytica parent company

    “Once we have completed the TAA and matched it to the Experian data we will be in a position to start microtargeting…” Julian Wheatland, COO of SCL Group Ltd

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who do you call?

    Who do you call when the Information Commission fails to provide information?

    "The Register asked how much the ICO had spent on its IT and technology systems as part of the investigation, but the ICO said it didn't hold any information in scope of the request. "

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The cost of the work, to 29 October 2018, stood at £2.44m

    in short, taxpayers will pay for facebook abuse / fuckups. £2.44m by now, make it quadruple, by the time the investigation is over... oh, what am I saying! - make it TEN times as much until investigation is suspended in 2024, when somebody's gonna say finally: ok, we've got to stop this, this is costing a little too much. By 2035 the legal costs of trying to extract a "whooping" £5m fine from facebook will reach another £5m and the whole case will have been buried under more pressing matters (Brexit, Take 47?)

    yes, I know, I'm being too optimistic, can't help looking at the bright side of light, or something...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. Almost a third spent on outsourcing digital, legal skills

    I'm sure FB and (ex) Cambridge Anal would be happy to help, plenty of digital and legal skills, no?

  9. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    Outsourcing..

    All I can say, is when you go on the cheap, you get what you pay for.

    Where I work, with each regime change in IT, it seems like the lessons of the past are utterly forgotten. We flip from internal to external, back to internal again, lather, rinse, repeat. Currently our CIO is on a big outsourcing binge. Which I'm sure will make the board happy with the money 'saved', but is becoming a nightmare for the employees that rely on timely, skilled IT services, and of course no fun for people wondering if they will still have a job in a few months, or be forced to come back as contractors with pitiful to no benefits.

    When you have IT staff (or any staff) that are not in full-time direct employ, they have no stake in the business and little understanding of it. And it takes at least 6 months or more to get someone in any IT position to a state where they are more useful and not a menace to everyone else. And without trying to be prejudiced, when you outsource to a foreign company, there can be a huge language barrier in just basic communications, to say nothing of trying to explain technical concepts.

    You can pay people properly and treat them with respect, or save a bunch of money now and pay dearly for it later when your talent base, the people that know "why this was done some weird way", have fled for greener pastures.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Outsourcing..

      Is the ICO any different from the rest of the UK government?

      It looks to me as if they are following standard UK operating procedures - pay the managers and outsource as much as possible. This saves a lot of money, savings that can be used to keep the costs of running the government down. Sure, the quality of the services often means that the delivery is poor but that doen't usually appear on the radar until later - then we rinse and repeat.

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