PL&B UK E-news, Issue 94

1. Graham argues his case for custodial penalty

Giving evidence on 2 September on press standards and privacy to the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media, and Sports, the new Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, reiterated the need to bring into force custodial sentences for Section 55 offences.

He drew the Committees attention to the likelihood that such a deterrent would stop the unlawful trading of personal information immediately. Graham explained how the ICO's Operation Motorman revealed 17,000 requests for personal data made to a private investigator by hundreds of journalists.

Graham was questioned about why the ICO had not prosecuted the 300 journalists that they now know were involved in the trade. Graham said it would have been a disproportionate use of their resources to go through the 17,000 purchase orders to establish what had happened. He also said that to publish all the names that were involved in the enquiry would be a gross invasion of privacy.

Graham said that the ICO approach was to influence current thinking by releasing its 'What Price Privacy Now' report, provide training for journalists together with the Press Complaints Commission, and put the case for custodial sentences.

He said that they felt let down by Parliament, the Committee had originally recommended custodial sentences, and newspapers. He said that to activate custodial sentences would simply require a Ministerial Order, and encouraged the Committee to recommend this step.

2. How to make a business case for privacy: contributions sought

The ICO has appointed consultants to find out how to best make a soundly argued business case for investing in privacy friendly systems and business processes.

Watson Hall Ltd and John Leach Information Security Ltd (JLIS Ltd) will undertake a three-month research project with the aim of producing a comprehensive business case. The research project 'The business case for investing in proactive privacy protection' - will explore implementing business processes, procuring information systems, and assessing the value of personal information for organisations.
A discussion document that outlines the issues has now been published. Contributions can be sent by 15 September to

The discussion document is available here

Read in the next issue of PL&B UK in October how DP managers can best sell data protection within their organisations, and justify their spending.

3. ICO working on code of practice for online data

The ICO is looking at how organisations that collect personal information through websites can best comply with the law and adopt good practice. Guidance will be provided on Operating a privacy-friendly website Rights and protections for individuals Privacy choices and default settings Cyberspace and territoriality.

The ICO hopes to publish the Code in May next year. It welcomes contributions from stakeholders, and will soon organise a public consultation. For more information, please contact

For further details on the Privacy Laws & Business UK Newsletter, please click here.

Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2009