The ICO contemplates his navel and likes what he sees
Anyone who heard Christopher Graham launching the ICO’s annual report last week must wonder just how many planets there are in this solar system. In his own words:
…the ICO is well up to the task.
…the ICO has bared its teeth…
It’s a case of ‘wake up and smell the CMP!’
…the regulator is getting results.
This reads like a marketing department bigging-up a poor product. The simple fact is, based on irrefutable empirical evidence, the ICO is failing: corporate and government loss of personal data is certainly not diminishing. Graham is wrong.
But there are two things in his speech that I particularly wish to consider. At one point he says:
The ICO has received precious little credit for having been the first to blow the whistle on Fleet Street practices in our 2006 publications ‘What Price Privacy?’ and ‘What Price Privacy Now?’… Meanwhile, we have been facilitating ‘fast track’ subject access from the so-called Motorman Files for any concerned citizen…
Compare this view of the ICO with that of its own Motorman investigator at the time, Alexander Owens:
“Despite our protests we were told this was the decision of Richard Thomas [then IC] and that he would deal with the press involvement by way of the Press Complaints Council. It was at this moment we knew no journalist could or ever would be prosecuted in relation to our investigation.”
Something rotten in the state of the Information Commissioner’s Office – will Leveson act?
The reason the ICO got precious little credit is because it deserves none whatsoever – in fact, on the basis of this testimony, it was effectively complicit in what amounts to a cover-up.
My second concern is over the Information Commissioner’s closing comments. Specifically, he said:
Well, the ICO can expect to remain in the news as we engage with two further Government initiatives on the information rights agenda – the Draft Communications Data Bill and the drive for Open Data. We are working to ensure necessary limitations and safeguards for personal information and we want to enable appropriate data sharing and encourage openness provided it complies with the law.
Could somebody please tell me what this means? I want to ‘safeguard’ personal information provided it complies with the law? I want to ‘enable appropriate data sharing’ that complies with the law? The law is whatever the government makes the law. The government is in the process of making a new communications law that will give them huge volumes of our personal data. But that’s alright because our privacy protector will make sure that government complies with the law that it makes.
What a waste of time. What a waste of space. What a waste of taxpayers’ money.