ICO to meet new minister and address the ECJ’s Safe Harbor decision

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham will next Monday, 12 October, meet Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe, who represents the ICO’s new sponsoring Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). Neville-Rolfe is also a Minister in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The ICO works with other government ministers as necessary, such as Baroness Shields, Minister for Internet Safety and Security. Commenting on the new sponsoring department at this morning’s Fireside Chat with Chantal Bernier, Counsel at Dentons, he said that he has “now warmed to the idea” of this change to “the machinery of government.” He considers that data protection fits in well with the DCMS’s responsibilities for supervising the digital space, for example, OFCOM, and is used to dealing with arm’s length bodies, such as the ICO.

Meanwhile, supervision of the ICO’s work on the Freedom of Information Act has now gone to the Cabinet Office. However, ideally, as recommended by select committees, “it would be most logical for the ICO to become an Officer of Parliament.”

Commenting on the ICO’s response to the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Max Schrems/Facebook Safe Harbor case, he said: “Don’t panic. Safe Harbor is not the only route for international transfers. We are coordinating our thinking with other DPAs across the European Union.”

Today there is a meeting of the International Transfers sub-group of the Art. 29 Data Protection Working Party, and next week Graham will attend a meeting of this group’s plenary which will discuss the issue.

See the ICO statement on the Safe Harbor decision.