A Regulator for all Seasons

Visiting Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, with Laura Linkomies, PL&B Editor, at the ICO office earlier this month, seeing her in action last month at Parliament’s Public Bill Committee hearing on the Digital Economy Bill, and at the Privacy Commissioners’ Conference in Morocco, it is clear that she has wasted no time in putting her own stamp on the organisation and the privacy scene in the UK and internationally. Having previously been a Privacy and Freedom of Information regulator at both national and provincial levels in Canada, she can steer the ICO ship regardless of the way the Brexit wind is blowing.

She has a refreshing brisk style, concluding her comments to Parliament’s Public Bill Committee that the Digital Economy Bill’s approach is right but “Up the safeguards and improve the transparency.”

Her forthright comments on Facebook/Whatsapp is just the UK side of a concerted effort by the EU Data Protection Authorities to constrain the gathering and sharing of personal data by some social media without clear enough affirmative permission. At least one company is paying individuals for the explicit and conscious sharing of their personal data.

Although the Freedom of Information Act has traditionally been of interest only to the public sector, its ever-widening scope to aspects of the private sector, particularly when carrying out outsourced work for the public sector, means that companies will need to pay more attention to this law following the recent decision of the Information Rights Tribunal that the Tate Gallery must release information on the amount of money that BP had paid in sponsorship fees.

The first of PL&B’s Self-Help! Roundtables takes place tomorrow afternoon, 23 November. PL&B’s Workplace Privacy conference will be hosted by law firm, Lewis Silkin, on 7 December. Both events take place in London.

A trend toward opting-in

We detect a trend towards opting-in for marketing, not only for a charity, (the Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the first major charity to do so) but also for the John Lewis Group. Top management clearly regard it as the right thing to do. They regard it as an additional plank in their ethical stance. Winning and retaining more customer loyalty and ultimately more sales revenue would clearly be a pragmatic advantage.

We have identified a few companies which are also leading this trend. Contact Laura Linkomies, Editor if you are willing to tell us about your efforts in this area, as we plan to write about organisations taking this step next year, PL&B’s 30th Anniversary year.


Stewart Dresner, Publisher


UK Report 88

Lead story:

Elizabeth Denham: A bigger, bolder, brighter ICO

In an exclusive interview with PL&B, Elizabeth Denham talks about her plans for the ICO, including the enforcement regime, GDPR compliance advice and personal liability for directors.

Contents also include:

  • Comment: Companies see benefits from ethical stance on DP
  • ICO to remain as a single commissioner
  • It don’t mean a thing, if you ain’t got opt-in
  • Government gives green light to GDPR implementation
  • GDPR will be here sooner than you expect
  • The use and abuse of DSARs
  • GDPR presents HR pitfalls
  • Practicalities of implementing a GDPR compliance programme
  • Payment service providers face even tougher DP requirements
  • Police use of body worn cameras raises DP concerns
  • GDPR action points become clearer
  • FOI requires Tate Gallery to reveal details of sponsorship
  • Right to challenge ICO at First-tier Tribunal
  • Parliament looks to widen data breach reporting
  • DPAs gather in Morocco
  • 500 Privacy Shield certifications
  • New ICO code on privacy notices
  • Facebook pauses processing
  • UK agencies collected communications data unlawfully